Book Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings AttachedStrings Attached
Judy Blundell
Scholastic Press, March 2011
ISBN 978-0-545-22126-9
Also available in a later trade paperback edition

This is not “Sex in the City” New York.  This New York is grittier, more glamorous, more secretive and certainly more seductive.  And much, much more dangerous.

I had almost forgotten how much I could enjoy a book devoid of vampires, werewolves, dystopia and magic.  Ms. Blundell’s Strings Attached was a fabulous reminder.  This book is raw, stark and compelling, yet; oddly simple.

Most of the story takes place in New York City in the 1950s.  Some of the events are real, albeit the timeline may be slightly adjusted.  This is a time when non-traditional families lived packed together in tiny apartments.  Young men are lying about their age so that they can enlist in the military, and all men in uniform are heroes.  Adorable Irish triplets entertain with skits, song and dance.  Young, talented girls are flocking to New York to be on Broadway, or at least dance and sing in posh nightclubs.  Women do their hair in pin-curls, they add a touch of bright red lipstick, and long-distance telephone calls are very expensive.  Trusted family friends may turn out to be very high up in the mob and absolutely nothing is free.

Kit is the 17-year old girl, who, as a triplet, has never been alone in her life.  Despite her lessons, practice and obvious talent, it is still a wildly scary decision to leave her family behind and try to make it in New York City.  While dealing with these intimidating nuances, she is struggling to define her relationship with Billy, who, after a tumultuous fight, has enlisted in the military and will be deployed very soon.  These aren’t her biggest challenges.

Billy’s father, Nate, trusted family friend, begins to do “favours” for Kit, to help her get a good start in the city.  Ever the skeptic, Kit doubts his sincerity.  As she questions his motives, she begins to unravel a mystery involving the least likely of people.  Unbeknownst to her, Billy, too is learning more than he ever wanted to know about his father and his father’s relations.  As Kit and Billy, separately, begin to uncover a truth thought hidden forever, danger surrounds them each.  Will the truth set them free?  Will either of them even live to tell this tale?  The answers will surprise you.  Some questions may never be answered, and sometimes, the hero has to die.

I hope you enjoy reading about Kit’s journey as much as I did.

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2013.