Strings Attached by Judy Blundell, published by Scholastic on 5th May 2011
Kit Corrigan has always dreamed of being a star. But in order to get there, she needs to break up with Billy and leave her family in Providence, Rhode Island, to move to New York City. There, she finds small roles and a city that's tough to live in. After she meets with Billy's father, Nate, things get a little easier. But Nate is a lawyer who defends mobsters, and soon Kit realizes that she has to do what he asks of her. Kit's life starts to feel beyond her control, especially once she uncovers a mystery that she needs to solve in order to protect the people she loves.
'Strings Attached' came to my attention after reading and enjoying Judy Blundell's previous novel 'What I Saw and How I Lied'. Similar in style, 'Strings Attached' is set in the forties and fifties, alternating between New York and Providence, Rhode Island. It follows main protagonist Kit Corrigan as she arrives in NYC to become a dancer and make something of her life. Along the way things become more and more complicated for Kit as she becomes mixed-up in the affairs of her boyfriend's father, a lawyer notorious for defending dangerous mobsters.
I liked the way in which the story started out fairly simply and then slowly became more and more complex and entangled as the plot went on. It starts out with Kit trying to find her way on her own in the city and to break away from the ties of her family but the story gradually turns into something else altogether which is far more sinister and murky. The people in the book are no longer who you first thought they were and characters have shady motives which are eventually brought to the surface as the deceit and lies begin to unravel.
I thought that the book was a little slow in places and sometimes I found myself waiting for something to happen which never really transpired. Perhaps if the story had been condensed slightly, then the suspense and intrigue would have been even more tightly wrought and absorbing. Some bits were also a bit difficult to follow as events in the book unfold backwards and the time frame changes quite frequently. I found myself having to go back and reread some chapters just to make sure I had events straight in my head.
Judy Blundell touches throughout on a number of serious issues, such as the way in which homosexuality was received in the forties and fifties but although this is interesting, these issues are never really explored fully enough and are instead simply mentioned and then skirted around.
Overall, 'Strings Attached' had a clever plot and a surprise ending and the writing throughout is beautifully nuanced, interweaving accurate historical detail throughout which gives an air of authenticity to the story. This title will certainly appeal to admirers of Blundell's previous book and is sure to win her a whole new set of fans too.