Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ARC Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached
Author: Judy Blundell
Publication: Scholastic Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2011)

Description: 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.

Nate Benedict is Billy's father. He's also a lawyer involved in the mob. He makes Kit a deal--he'll give her an apartment and introduce her to a new crowd. All she has to do is keep him informed about Billy . . . and maybe do him a favor every now and then.

As she did in her National Book Award-winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Judy Blundell traps readers in a web of love, deceit, intrigue, and murder. The result? One stunner of a novel.

My Thoughts: This was a fascinating look at New York in 1950 through the eyes of 17-year-old Kit Corrigan. Kit is the youngest of the Corrigan Three - triplets whose mother died at their birth. They were raised by her father Jimmy and her Aunt Delia. Their father made them public celebrities just because they were triplets. They got product endorsements and appeared at county fairs and other public celebrations. It was a way for the family to make money during the Depression but life was still hard. Kit embraced the performing life and is determined to become a Broadway star. 

At first when I began the story, I thought that I had missed a previous book. There were so many allusions to previous events. As I kept reading, I discovered that there were numerous flashbacks in the book that helped me fill in the blanks. It did make the start of the book confusing and difficult for me. Once I got past them and started getting the big picture, I enjoyed the book much more. 

The story is both a coming-of-age story and a story that does include, as the product description says, deceit, intrigue, and murder. Kit gradually learns family secrets that had been concealed from her all her life. She also gradually becomes involved with the Mob through her connection with Nate Benedict. It all starts with asking for and taking favors. 

The Corrigans and the Benedicts have been involved since before the Corrigan Three were born. Jimmy, Delia, and Nate Benedict had been friends during Prohibition when they were bootlegging and running alcohol down from Canada. Delia and Nate had a romance but didn't marry because Nate wasn't going to go straight. They separated and their lives took much different paths. Nate became a successful lawyer who worked for organized crime. Jimmy, Delia and the kids lived a difficult, hand-to-mouth life.

Their lives entwined when Nate saves Delia from a hurricane. Their lives entwined again when Kit meets Billy who is Nate's son and they fall in love. But Billy has secrets of his own, anger issues and is jealous of Kit's other friends. When they fight, Billy runs off to join the Army and Kit runs to New York to start her search for stardom. 

This was a complex but entertaining book filled with memorable characters and interesting situations. Readers who enjoy historical fiction would enjoy this one. 

Favorite Quote:
Nate waited by the stage door. I couldn't tell by his face what he was thinking. I'd known Billy's mood before he said hello, if he was happy or sulky or crazy to see me. Nate's face was as clean as if he'd just scrubbed his feelings off with a washcloth. He was nothing like his son.
I got this book through my participation in the Amazon Vine program. It is available in hardcover, ebook, and Audible versions.

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