Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached depicts the fifties in all its grime with an edgy tilt highlighting the days of the McCarthy Era hearings on a witch hunt for communists. This era of bomb drills, mobsters and a rapidly changing America where nothing is as it once was but no one knew where it was heading comes alive in Judy Blundell’s 2011 novel.

Kit Corrigan, a sassy redheaded triplet whose mother died giving birth to her three children, is a multi-dimensional and fascinating character who falls in love with dance at a young age. Life for her plays out in terms of dance movements. Metaphorically, it’s as if she’s dancing allegro and flies into the arms and heart of love as if she’s a heroine in a tragic ballet.

Strings Attached travels with Kit both physically and emotionally as she leaves Providence, Rhode Island for a career as a Lido Club dancer in New York, becomes embroiled in the underbelly of  mobster life, finds her way back to Providence and the strength of family while facing the secrets that brought them sorrow and tore them apart.

Indeed, there are strings attached in many ways, good and bad.

This is a complex tale of two generations of family and friends whose choices spread themselves from one generation to the next creating sorrow and passion. It’s about an Irish family that struggles and finds solidarity. It’s about how,

Life gives you plenty of chances to be stupid, and I’d had taken every single one of them.

In Kit Corrigan’s 1950s world, family life is in flux and roles are uncertain and as she muses,

When a family breaks you don’t hear the crack of the breaking. You don’t hear a sound.

Unrequited love, passion found, death, heartless manipulation and a family mended make Strings Attached a fantastic read. It truly captures the era and its uncertain  times. Kit mused after living in New York with support coming from her boyfriend’s father in the mysterious form of free rent and stylish clothing,

They said that if a bomb hit Manhattan, the living would envy the dead. I know how they felt now.  

Kit struggles to uncover and understand the dark forces bringing her, her family and her boyfriend’s family suffering and long held resentments that fomented and exploded lead to early death while bringing sunlight into the long and dark unknown of the past.

Strings Attached explores the threads that hold families and lovers together.

It’s a tragedy that lifts you up, convincing you that in the darkest moments there is reason to hope and surge forward. Toward the end of this beautifully written novel when sorrow lies heavily on Kit’s shoulders she thinks that it is almost spring now,

…when the branches were fuzzy as if you needed glasses to see, but knew it was really the buds of the leaves ready to poke their way out into the world. One day those edges would be sharp and clear and startlingly green. 

I love this hopeful aspect in the writing of Strings Attached. Blundell leaves things ambiguous, but she metaphorically intimates that spring is close and all will again become “startlingly green.” Kit had taken plenty of chances to be stupid, yet there are plenty of chances to be smart, to mend the cracks in a broken heart.

I highly recommend Strings Attached to both teens and adults. It has it all: love, murder, death, sorrow, beauty, buried family secrets and finally a bright light to foreshadow hope.

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