Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review - Strings Attached

Judy Blundell Scholastic Press
The year is 1950 and after moving to New York City to pursue her dream of acting, Kit Corrigan quickly realizes that - despite her talent and determination - she's going to need some help in order to be able to stay in the city. This help comes in the form of Nate Benedict, the father of her (ex?)-boyfriend Billy... and a big-time lawyer with mob affiliations. He offers her a nice apartment, new clothes, and a foot in the door at the famous Lido club -- no strings attached, or so he says. The reality, Kit finds out, is that he expects her to be at his beck-and-call: to keep in tough with his estranged son (Billy) for him as well as hold packages for strangers and keep tabs on tough-looking guys that hang out at the Lido. Between the debt she owes Nate and her confusing feelings for Billy as well as family drama going on at home (her aunt has disappeared and her brother has enlisted in the military), Kit's life is a balancing act and it doesn't help that Nate's possible mob involvement is growing more and more sinister.

Strings Attached takes on a lot. Along with the mystery that lies at the center of the novel there's also Kit's complex love life, the unknown story of where her aunt disappeared to, dreams of stage fame, and a few other subplots that are woven together. What this means is that though the book gives a well-rounded view of Kit's life both before and during her move to New York City, it doesn't answer all the questions it raises. Either because of the time period or because of the Corrigan family's habit of brushing big topics under the rug, there are shades of ambiguity in many of the storylines here, including the relationship Kit shares with Billy and the issue of her brother's sexuality. While this ambiguity makes sense for the time period and will undoubtedly work for some readers, I was left wanting just a little bit more answer along with all the questions.

Kit herself is a character I have conflicting feelings about, which is a testament to how three-dimensional she is. Only seventeen years old, Kit is (by choice) already out on her own in "the big city." She's accustomed to dealing with lewd comments from men, knows how to carry herself with confidence and stand up for herself; in many aspects she seems incredibly grown up and mature. Then there are other moments, just as vivid, where she seems to morph back into an actual 17-year-old, laughing with the boy next door and stealing a few carefree moments. I really like this dichotomy and how it's presented.

As I mentioned earlier, this book has more storylines than it manages to tie up and that's where my real problem lies: there were a few plots I was incredibly interested in that seemed, just because of how full this book is, to never be fully explored. Kit and Billy's relationship is one that I feel like I could have read an entire novel about -- and if it had been the focal point of this novel I would have really liked it. Unfortunately, there's just too much here for me. That said, I do think that fans of multi-layered novels and quiet mysteries will enjoy this one.


  1. Woah how did I not know about this! I really liked What I Saw and HOw I LIed (and i swear, the covers are so similar they could be a series) but this one looks just as good. My favourite aspect about WISAHIL was the layers and complexity to a simpler type of story, so I think I'll like this. Thanks for the review!

  2. Audrey
    Oh, I'm so glad! I think you will definitely like this book then. I started reading WISAHIL in a bookstore once but never bought and finished it, but I've heard it has a lot of the same complexities as far as storylines as this book has. I hope you read & love this one. :)