I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
Published by Scholastic Inc. on 2011-04-01
Genres: 20th Century, Family, Historical, Parents, United States, Young Adult
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From National Book Award winner Judy Blundell, the tale of a sixteen-year-old girl caught in a mix of love, mystery, Broadway glamour, and Mob retribution in 1950 New York. When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army. The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help--and then it comes, from an unexpected source.
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell is seedy night clubs personified. With each turn of the page, one can practically smell the cigarette smoke wafting. The year is 1950 and Kit Corrigan has moved to New York City from Providence, Rhode Island in hopes of catching her big break and landing a role in a Broadway musical. Reality, however, has a different way of working out from dreams, as Kit finds herself caught up with the mob.
Strings Attached is a story that unravels. With each chapter, a new layer is peeled away until you come to the shining nugget of truth upon which the story lies. I enjoyed the depth. I liked being in the dark on certain characters. There’s a complexity to Judy Blundell’s writing that I think YA fans will be into.
Add in the perfect blend of my favorite historical fiction elements, and we’ve got a new favorite. The atmosphere is excellent, as described in the first paragraph I could perfectly visualize Kit’s world. I know a bit about the 50s, Red Scare, McCarthyism, and all, however, that doesn’t exactly fall under emotions. What I enjoyed was that Strings Attached brought emotions to a time when my Dad was born, and when my Grandpa was on a ship headed to war in Korea. I felt the fear the characters did during an Atom bomb drill. I actually cared about the Korean war (I reserve my war cares mostly for The Civil War and WWII).
In addition to the atmosphere, I thought the characterization in Strings Attached was particularly strong. The main players — Kit, Nathan Benedict, Billy, Jamie, Aunt Delia are fleshed out with motivations, personalities, flaws, and good traits. Not one character is exactly what they appear to be, and I loved that. I loved that Nathan was more than a mobster lawyer. I loved the Aunt Delia wasn’t just this frigid old maid, that she has a secret. I loved that Kit, while beautiful and an excellent performer hated school.
As for Blundell’s writing style, every other page was dog-eared because of the words on the page. Honestly, the writing felt Donnelly-esque in quote-ability, just like A Northern Light was. This is a GREAT read for those who us who love words, atmosphere, history, and a multi-layered story.
A few excellent quotes so you get a taste for Blundell’s style:
“Luck doesn’t last, I knew that much. Sometimes over my cup of coffee, I’d think about the Corrigans -a long line of lunkheads going straight back to County Galway. One dumb choice after another. The family had sailed to America in 188 and they were still greenhorns. Always looking at their feet, never up at the sky. We went down in ships, we died in childbirth, we drank or worked ourselves to death, we disappeared without a trace. What chance did I have to break that chain of misfortune?”
“In those hot summers, full of flies and white skies, corn and pigs, I learned what America was –people looking up from their work and trouble and hoping someone would tell them a story, sell them a dream.”
“When you learn to sing, you learn to keep a reserve of breath in your lungs. It’s there when you need it, at the end of a phrase, to hold the note strong and clear. Did I still have a reserve somewhere deep inside? Would I ever find it?”
Disclosure: Review copy received through Amazon Vine.