Booklist: the American
Addie Bates can’t believe she’s headed back to San Diego—and with such an unusual troupe. It’s the summer of 1935, and the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has been chosen to present its healthful, vegetarian, and very nude lifestyle as an exhibit at the World’s Fair. The outraged protesters waving handmade signs don’t threaten Addie. She’s more concerned with the secrets she left in San Diego many years ago. After working up the nerve to visit her estranged sister once the ogling crowds have gotten their fill for the day, Addie discovers that her sister has kept some secrets of her own. Romo spins a tale of sacrifice, shame, and the bonds of sisterhood, maintaining an admirable sense of tone, contrasting the communal, hearty work of the nudist colony with Addie’s anxiety and isolation. Chapters are alternately narrated by Addie and her niece, jumping between their separate recollections of the past and their shared experiences of that strange summer. Readers who love Lisa See’s Shanghai Girls (2009) and the work of Kate Morton will enjoy the intriguing and multi-layered Whistling Women. —Stephanie Turza
Historical Novel Society
"Whistling Women is a well-crafted book that puts readers into the lives of the two generations of sisters. It’s also quirky, with the nudist colony backdrop."
Portland Book Review
While one could say Whistling Women is predominantly a women’s book, it unfolds with depth and care that any reader would enjoy. The issues, though set in a particular time frame, are timeless and relevant to today’s world.