Wednesday, April 20, 2011

YA BOOK REVIEW: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell: It’s 1950, and 17-year-old Kit Corrigan is at the end of her rope. She’s fought with her father and broken up with her longtime boyfriend, Billy. In furious revenge, Billy enlisted in the army. Kit decides to escape from her hometown of Providence, RI, and start a new life in New York City. But although she’s a talented dancer with "the look," she quickly learns how difficult it is to make it in New York.

And then, a man makes her an offer she can’t refuse. Nick Benedict, her ex-boyfriend’s father, who happens to be a lawyer for the mob, offers her an apartment rent-free and a lead on a job dancing at a prestigious nightclub. All she has to do is keep in touch with Billy and pass on any information she learns. Even though Kit knows better than to get involved with Nick, part of her wants an excuse to contact Billy. Before long, Kit is caught up in a web of obligations and lies. The more she searches for a way out, the more tangled in his web she becomes.

I love Judy Blundell’s writing. I first became a fan when reading the Star Wars- Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson with my middle grade son. Although they could have succeeded simply as short, plot-driven science fiction pieces, they were so much more. I was impressed by the character development. I became (embarrassingly) emotionally attached to those Jedis and had a hard time putting the books down. When I learned that Jude Watson and Judy Blundell were the same person, and Judy Blundell wrote YA historical fiction—What I Saw and How I Lied, a National Book Award winner, I raced out to get it. That is another book I highly recommend.

Which brings us to Strings Attached. Told from Kit’s point of view, the main action takes place in 1950, following her move to NYC, but the story does not unfold in a linear, chronological fashion. We also flashback to Kit’s past to fill in gaps. This allows for gradual understanding for Kit and for the reader. The format worked very well. It was easy enough to check the date at the beginning of each chapter and to settle in to the read, piecing together more of the characters’ fragmented pasts. It was very satisfying as each of the pieces clicked into place. This is a dark book (mobsters, murders, drunkenness, deceit) but there are enough good-hearted people to keep it from miring in darkness.

Overall, I remained impressed by Blundell’s mastery of both intricate plotting and deeply complex characters, and I eagerly await her next book.

I read this as one of my YA-historical fiction challenge books. Check out the challenge at YA Bliss.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't know she was Jude Watson too. Interesting... I loved What I Saw, and I have this book and can't wait to get to it!