washingtonpost.com
"Strings Attached," a young adult mystery from Judy Blundell

Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 8:03 PM

STRINGS ATTACHED

By Judy Blundell

Scholastic. $17.99. Ages 13-18

Judy Blundell follows her 2008 National Book Award winner, "What I Saw and How I Lied," with an intense young-adult mystery cut from the same midcentury-noir cloth but, if possible, even more intricately stitched. Family secrets are the warp and weft of this novel, too.

At 17, Kit Corrigan, a talented dancer, has left her home in Providence, R.I., for a Broadway dream. The reality, though, is a low-paying gig in a musical flop and nights on a rented couch. Enter Nate Benedict, the mob-attorney father of Kit's brooding ex-boyfriend, Billy, now a soldier in the Korean War. Nate sets Kit up with an apartment and a glamorous nightclub job but "requests" that she resume contact with Billy, from whom he is estranged. Blundell skillfully threads extended flashbacks through the first-person narrative, as Kit comes to realize Nate's shady connection, over the years, to her father and to pretty Aunt Delia.

Stylish prose creates a sense of time and place, from the New England back yards where "tomato plants and grapevines competed with shrines to the Virgin Mary" to Manhattan's predawn "quiet, gray and silver" streets to the "eerie . . . apprehension" of air-raid drills. As past is pieced to present, the story moves to a murder, a multi-generational showdown and, amid shattering surprises, the sense that family forms the fabric - colorful and torn - of Kit's life.

- Mary Quattlebaum

Post a Comment


Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company