Strings Attached Hardcover – 1 June 2011
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- Publisher : Scholastic Inc; 1st edition (1 June 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0545221269
- ISBN-13 : 978-0545221269
- Reading age : 14 - 17 years
- Dimensions : 14.86 x 2.79 x 21.59 cm
- Customer Reviews:
Praise for What I Saw and How I Lied:
2008 National Book Award Winner--Young People's Literature
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Romantic Times Book Review 2008 Reviewers Choice Nominee
Blundell navigates this multidimensional plotline with unique, well-developed characters and insightful dialogue. --School Library Journal, starred review
A stylish, addictive brew. --Publishers Weekly, starred review
Judy Blundell takes readers into the mind and heart of a teenager hungry for truth and afraid of what she might find. --The Washington Post
An extraordinary story... Gripping. --The Wall Street Journal
Blundell doesn't miss a step. This is a smart, complex story with a terrific mystery and brilliant characters. Set just after World War II, it captures the era with real pathos and an ugly dose of reality. --Romantic Times Magazine
This beautifully written story is full of period detail, from a post-war New York City right out of Life magazine to a sleepy and sticky Florida courthouse, and its well-drawn and original characters spring to life on the page... this gripping novel would also make a top-notch read for adults. --Bookpage.com
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The racy style aptly describes the glamorous ideals of a young woman aiming for the stars, her hopes and emotions, but there is a darker side to the tale, embracing the comparative poverty of pre- and post-war America, crime and corruption, and the gangster world. Despite trying to break away, Kit gets caught up in the web of her Irish family history and its relations with the Italian mobsters of Providence, Rhode Island. As she begins to realise her dream of dancing and acting on the New York stage she gets drawn further into the murky depths of the seamier side of clubland as her dancing role as a Lido doll gets caught up with the mob rivalry of New York and beyond.
But at the heart of the novel is the dramatic love story of Kit and Billy, a relationship fraught with the tensions created by their families. As a triplet, losing her mother at birth, Kit is brought up haphazardly by a dilatory Dad and a strict aunt who is hiding her own secret. Kit learns both the pretty and the poor as her father trades on the triplets in advertising and dance shows, but remains a struggling Irishman in the tattier part of town. The friendship between Kit, her brother Jamie, and Billy, the son of Nate Benedict, a corrupt lawyer involved with the Italian mob, develops through a series of vignette chapters, flashbacks describing Kit's growing up, which Judy Blundell cleverly entwines with the main theme of Kit's complex life in New York at the age of seventeen-eighteen, whose rise towards fame is dependent on Billy's father.
This novel is both tender and brutal, glamorous and seedy, moral and amoral. The author weaves a number of strands into making this an effective coming-of-age story, from the Catholic upbringing of the Irish Corrigans to the stars and glitz of Manhattan in the early fifties. She has researched her background well, her references - whether to stars, films, and radio, or the Rhode Island landscape - is sound and convincing, and the period American voice rings true. She writes well and keeps tabs on all her strings, attching them carefully and accurately in every chapter without losing a thread.
Although aimed at the 16-25 age range, I think Strings Attached can be enjoyed by women of any age who are girls at heart, who love stories recalling the American Dream of the fifties, glamour while walking on the wild side. Judy Blundell has created a memorable character in the feisty, ambitious, red-headed Kit Corrigan who will live on in readers' minds long after they put down this emotional roller-coaster, satisfying story.
It's an exciting read, and the pace picks up steadily as it goes along. My only qualm about it is the flash-back heavy structure. This relies (I feel) too much on the readers flicking backwards and forwards, especially at the beginning of the book, to remind themselves of what order they are reading the events in, since the flash-backs are cued in by a date and a place at the start of each chapter. Perhaps it's a little harsh to criticise the book for that, since the progressive re-interpretation of what happened in the past is crucial to the plot. It's also very evocative of the main character growing up and understanding with hindsight what was really going on.
The book is marked 'teen', but there's nothing in it that would make it less interesting and exciting to mainstream adult audiences. It's beautifully written throughout, and the detailed historical setting adds an extra dimension which older readers may appreciate more.
Kit Corrigan's dream is to star in a Broadway show. She has a dance teacher who encourages her, and at 17, in 1950, she sets off for New York from Rhode Island with stars in her eyes. A part in a chorus is not long coming, and rooming with other chorus members is fun, even if you are poor. But then her boyfriend's father arrives one day and takes her off to a small furnished apartment with its own front door,and tells her that its for her and Billy, his son, once he has returned from the Korean war. No strings. Oh, but there are! shortly afterwards he turns up again with a small suitcase and asks her just to keep it overnight..... and that's how her payback begins. For she once asked him to do a great favour for her family, and even though she was only 12 then, they shook hands on the deal, and now he wants payback and more...... Billy, her fiance, is a troubled soul with a bad, bad temper from time to time. She loves him dearly, but is frightened of that temper. It's when he comes to her prior to shipping off to Korea that things start to fall apart - although the reader already has some idea of the troubles ahead.
The book roams around between 1946 and 1950, so you do need to concentrate on the date at the top of each chapter, but I didn't see this as a fault - rather as an interesting way of linking happenings up. It's aimed at the Young Adult market, but even my advanced years didn't stop me enjoying this one bit - and I can't see any reason why it should stop you, either. It has a sparse style, so the pace is kept up, and you want to keep reading. A good yarn, a thriller, a love story - with a few shocks to the system along the way.
Strings Attached is an exciting historical novel aimed at older teenagers, with the colourful, atmospheric story about coming of age in the big city, and layers of mystery and drama. Some readers may be drawn to the theatrical setting, although this is portrayed as much less glamorous than it sounds. Kit is still quite young, and sometimes I was impressed by her courage, while at other moments I was irritated by her naivete and her misjudgements of other characters. Kit's old boyfriend Billy didn't seem like much of a catch, more like a violent young thug. When Billy's dad offers her an apartment in central Manhattan, asserting his conviction that Billy will come back to her, she should have realised that nothing comes for free.
This is marketed as young adult fiction - there are some dark themes of sex, death and violence although the sex and violence aren't explicitly described, and I think the book would appeal to readers of 14/15 up, who are probably already raiding their parents' bookshelves, as well as to much older readers (like me).
Kit appears especially young and naive as she is drawn into Nate's corrupt world, and her ties to Nate not only jeopardise her reputation and her relationship with Billy, she also uncovers clues to several secrets thought buried.
"Strings Attached" didn't really strike me as YA romance, but rather a standard chick lit that happens to be set in the 1950's. In fact rather than an inspirational young heroine, Kit instead is more like the young and manipulated ingénue found in a Jackie Collin's novel. This book is an easy read and entertaining in places. There is glamour, and some great interaction between Kit and other characters (particularly the other chorus girls) but the majority of them fall flat or are quite stereotypical (the drunken Irish no-hope father, the dodgy lawyer, the disapproving aunt who hides a wilder side). My 3 stars reflect a book that I thought was ok, but "Strings Attached" ultimately didn't thrill me or have me eagerly turning pages.