Monday, December 3, 2012

Strings Attached

Strings Attached
Judy Blundell
ISBN: 978-0545221269
Scholastic, 2011

Plot Summary: Kit Corrigan has gotten used to the limelight. As part of a set of triplets she grew up performing in song and dance shows as the Corrigan Three to help pay to support her family which also included her single father and Aunt Delia. Unfortunately for her, the showbiz bug never went away. Not caring much for school like her sister, she decides to drop out and head to New York City when she breaks up with her boyfriend Billy and he and her brother enlist in the army. What she didn’t expect was a ton of other girls also trying to make it in the big city and trying to break away from the pack is a lot harder than she expected and cost of living is also much more expensive. It all changes when Benedict, Billy’s father, comes knocking. He’ll give Kit anything she could ever want—a fancy rent free apartment, clothes, a job as a Lido Girl, and more—in exchange for contacting Billy and keeping him informed about what he’s doing. At first it seems like a one time deal and worth it until Benedict starts coming around more and more and gets a little too affectionate and wants more and more favors from Kit. All of it comes to a head when jealous Billy returns and secrets are revealed—Benedict’s connections to the mob, her aunt’s connections with Benedicts, and more. When Kit is accused of connections with the mob because everyone thinks she’s Benedict’s “doll” can she separate the truth from the lies and not get sent to prison for being an accessory to murder?

Critical Evaluation: A very good historical mystery that is slow going at first. It was pretty hard to get into the beginning, which might make it a tough sell to readers. One reason for this is very haphazard flashbacks that aren’t clearly defined. One minute it’s 1930 and the next is a story about five months ago followed by an incident from when Kit was five years old. It was hard to follow at times. Kit can be a bit of a bitch sometimes and hard to like. She certainly isn’t a role model—dropping out of school, smoking, being rude to other girls, etc. Billy is a controlling jerk (whose accidental death isn’t too sad). Hank, Kit’s cute neighbor, is the only really sympathetic character in the book as he and his family struggle to make ends meet. However, the 1920s/1930s era is wonderfully portrayed in the novel. It is also an era I think is underrepresented in YA fiction. Once the story gets going there is a lot of mystery that is intriguing and there is one moment of pure terror (“What’s in the box? What’s in the box?”) that is just nerve-wracking and superbly suspenseful. The end ties everything together nicely and makes it worth the effort put in to get past the slow opening.

Reader's Annotation: Kit Corrigan, used to the spotlight, wants more stardom. When she accepts a proposition from her ex-boyfriend’s father, she doesn’t expect to be caught up in a web of mob intrigue.  

Author Information: “Judy Blundell” is a pseudonym used by author Jude Watson. She has written books for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers under several pseudonyms. Her novel, Premonitions, was an ALA Reluctant Readers Best Picks and was chosen by the New York Public Library as a 2004 Best Books for the Teen Age. Blundell lives in Katonah, New York, with her husband and daughter. Under her real name, Jude Watson is currently the most celebrated author in the prequel-era of the Star Wars phenomenon. Although her Star Wars books are written for children ranging from 9 to 13 years of age, she has found a large fan base with adults (Judy, n.d.).

Genre: Historical, Mystery

Curriculum Ties: 1920s/1930s American history, Lido Girls, the mob and crime, speakeasies, etc.

Booktalking Ideas: The suspenseful “what’s in the box” scene (but end before telling what is in the box)

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Challenge Issues: Mob violence, sexuality of Lido Girls and other such gentleman’s clubs

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion:  Good historical and mystery novel.


Judy Blundell. (n.d.). Goodreads author profile. Retrieved from

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