N for Naive: Strings Attached, by Judy Blundell (fiction) – mobsters, favors, payback

Kit has see if she can make it in New York City on her own,
since Billy left for the Army.
She can sing, act, dance. She just has to do it.

So what if Billy’s dad wants to help her a little?
“No strings attached,” says Nate the Nose…
How much can you trust a gangster, Kit? How can you be so naive?

New York City in 1950. Recovered from World War II, all hustle and bustle and bright lights, with plenty of time for nightclubs and business deals – legitimate and otherwise. Lots of big theaters and smoky little dives like the one where Kit gets a job, where they’ll believe she’s old enough to work, not a 17-year-old running away from home.

Eventually she has to decide whether Nate’s help is worth the risks of observing which lawyer talks to which shady character at the nightclub, especially when some of them disappear. Can she risk not telling Nate when his son will come visit her? Why does she feel like the Korean warfront might be a safer place for Billy than being with his father?

Find out what Kit decides when you pick up Strings Attached at your local library or independent bookstore. (A fun note about author Judy Blundell: she’s also written Star Wars Journals and Star Wars Jedi Apprentice books under pen name Jude Watson.)

Book info: Strings Attached / Judy Blundell. Scholastic Press, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: This chorus line job just could be Kit’s lucky break. When Mr. Benedict offers her an apartment near the New York City club, she considers it – after all, he is her boyfriend Billy’s father…and rumored to be a gangster.

Anything’s better than staying in Providence, with her father’s drinking and her siblings trying to hide it (like triplets could ever hide anything from each other – ha!) and the scorn of Billy’s upper-class mother for the Corrigans’ genteel poverty.

Oh, how Billy argued with his father before leaving for basic training! Nate Benedict just couldn’t believe that he’d be stupid enough to join the Army during the Korean War. Now Billy returns his father’s letters unopened, and Nate wants Kit to let him know how his son is doing when he writes to her.

Nate brings Kit lovely clothes “like Billy would want for her,” and soon her upstairs neighbors think she’s a kept woman. The Greeleys were both teachers until they were fired for possible “Communist sympathies,” so they have lots of time to keep an eye on the neighborhood.

Kit often sees Nate in the nightclub audience, talking to known mobsters and crooked lawyers. When he asks her to have dinner with some of these guests, she realizes that her great apartment has a bigger price than she expected. When Billy forbids her to tell his father that he’s coming to the city, Kit knows that something is going to go wrong.

Does Billy really love her? Is his father a real gangster or just trying to make himself look good to the big city guys? How close is the Greeleys’ opinion of her to the truth of the matter?

A mystery, a love story, a growing-up tale – all piled into the hustle and bustle of 1950 New York City – with Strings Attached. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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