|Click for Goodreads|
By Judy Blundell
Published in 2011
Borrowed from my Library
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.
Before Strings Attached, I'd never listened to an entire audiobook. In high school, I didn't really have the opportunity. I'd never had to drive very far, classes were only a hallway away, and I didn't do a ton of housework. Now that I'm in college, I find that I have ample time to listen. The ten cold minutes I spend walking from class to class are a ton more enjoyable now, and I actually look forward to going places (even when it's freezing out!). Now that I've started doing this, and thanks to Overdrive and The Ohio eBook Project, I don't think I'll ever go without an audiobook again.
Now, onto the actual book. I was pleasantly surprised with Strings Attached. I love historical fiction, but I really wasn't expecting too much. I ended up being sucked in, big time. There was a point where I actually gasp out loud, and dug my fingernails into my cheek on accident because I was so emotionally affected by the events.
I found the beginning of Strings Attached to be a little confusing. Some of the chapters are flashbacks, which is made apparent by the date announced at the beginning of the chapter. I was disoriented a few times because I hadn't been paying attention to the date, and suddenly there were characters I'd never heard of and Kit was doing things that didn't fit with what I'd just heard. Once I realized things jump around, it was much easier to follow.
At the beginning of Strings Attached I wasn't really sure what I thought of Kit. She is a very strong willed girl, and I loved that she wasn't afraid to move to Manhatten on her own. Maybe because the whole story didn't come out for a while, but I was sightly put off at first by her sometimes ill feelings toward her family, and her boyfriend Billy. As Kit's story came out, I warmed up to her, and eventually found myself cheering her on.
The plot seems fairly straightforward at first, but it's really a web of events that all come together in unexpected ways at the end. I really could not fit the pieces together until they were put together for me. Maybe it's just because I wasn't expecting it, but the end of this book had me gasping for air and willing the actress to speak faster.
The strongest element of Strings Attached is, by far, the setting. I haven't read many books set from 1945-1950. Most books set around that time period are directly related to World War II, and I really liked that Strings Attached was set after the war. The war was referenced, but it wasn't the main source of conflict.
Blundell's descriptions were wonderfully vivid; I could almost smell the cigar smoke in the clubs. I really enjoyed how I was forced to pay attention to the details of the imagery because I was listening instead of reading. Sometimes when I'm reading I will gloss over the descriptive details without thinking about it, but I was always aware of the them in Strings Attached, and it made imagining the events of the book a really cool experience.
I wish there had been more of Kit's friend Hank. He was a refreshingly normal character in a sea of people with secrets and hidden pasts. I was also confused by how I felt about Kit's relationship with Billy, her boyfriend. There's a point in the novel where Kit describes Billy as extremely possessive, to the point where she feels like she can't do anything without him or his permission, but then that isn't really mentioned again or resolved. It seemed out of character for Kit, a very strong willed girl, to accept Billy's possessiveness.
Strings Attached was a surprising and delightful read. I was sucked into the setting, and at the end I wanted more of the characters, more of what happened next. It was a wonderful choice for my first audiobook, and I'll definitely try out Blundell's first book, What I Saw and How I Lied, sometime in the future.