Published by: Scholastic Press, March 2011
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Format/pages: Hardcover 310 pages
Format read/Source: Library Book
Date read: May 21 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
It is the year 1950, and 17-year-old Kit Corrigan has left her Providence home headed for New York City to try to make it as a dancer. Her estranged boyfriend Billy and brother Jamie have just enlisted in the army, and she and her father don’t see eye to eye. Now Kit is trying to make ends meet on her own. She finds a small place to live and a job on a chorus line of a show called “That Girl From Scranton!” She’s feeling desperate just when help comes her way from Nate Benedict. Nate is Billy’s father and is a lawyer with mob ties. He offers to set her up with a new dancing job, and a nice apartment and clothes. All he asks is help with a few favors from time to time. Kit gets in over her head in this story of love, scandal, mystery, and intrigue.
I enjoyed Strings Attached a lot, and it’s one of the best I’ve read in the YA historical fiction genre. I was swept up in the story immediately and captivated with the details of Kit’s life in New York during the Korean War. The historical details are obviously well researched and transported me to another time and place. I felt like I was watching a film noir as the scandalous story unfolded.
Kit is on the one hand very mature to be able to handle life alone in New York. But at the same time she is naive in her relationship with Nate. He is bribing her so that he can get closer to his son, and for Kit’s help with his unsavory business dealings. Kit has a tumultuous relationship with Billy, who is a possessive and jealous boyfriend. He always seems to be walking in on her as she is embracing another man, which doesn’t help matters.
The story unfolds slowly and the details of Kit’s life are filled in through flashbacks to her life in Providence. We learn about her childhood and growing up as a triplet. We also learn about her relationship with Billy and her complicated family history with his father Nate. The flashbacks don’t interfere with the story in New York, but add a new perspective when viewing the current events.
The events of the book lead up to a jam packed ending, filled with shocking revelations and dramatic twists and turns. The books ends with such a big finish it is a shock to read after the more even pace of the first three quarters of the book. The book has a satisfying though bittersweet ending that was a complete surprise.
Strings Attached has a great story with a modern feel and relevance to today’s contemporary YA readers even though the story is set in the past. The noir-like tale of 1950 nightlife and gangsters has painstaking and vivid historical details of interest to history buffs as well. I’ll be sure to pick up the author’s previous book, National Book Award winner, What I Saw and How I Lied.
For more info, or to peruse or buy the book: