I’ve been a fan of children’s and young adult novels for…well, ever since I was a child and young adult, actually. Although I read mostly adult fiction, I still really enjoy reading a good book that is intended primarily, though not exclusively, for younger people. There are some things that really aren’t necessary to outgrow. I just finished reading a terrific YA novel called Strings Attached by Judy Blundell.
So much teen fiction now is either paranormal (vampires, fairies, angels), “mean girls”, or dystopian. Not my favorite – and especially not in quantity. In the midst of all this, Blundell’s novels really stand out. Strings Attached is what I call a noir mystery. It feels like an old black and white detective movie, with crisp writing and plenty to read between the lines. Set in 1950, 17-yr old Kit Corrigan has dropped out of school and fled her home in Providence, RI for the bright lights of New York City and Broadway. Her boyfriend’s father, a lawyer with connections to the mob, shows up to help her get started and asks only for the occasional favor in return. Blundell does a great job giving the reader enough action to get them hooked, and then revealing the back story gradually, letting the reader piece it all together a little at a time. Kit gets so caught up in her own lies that she doesn’t see all the lies around her until it’s almost too late.
I find myself referring to this as a sophisticated read. There’s nothing especially “teen” about the content except for the age of the protagonist and the fact that Blundell doesn’t throw in the gratuitous sex or violence that would turn this into an adult thriller. One of the reasons I enjoy picking up a YA novel from time to time is that they tend to be a quicker read than most books geared for adults. Although the husband can read ANYTHING in one sitting, I find it refreshing to finish something in a just a few days and still feel satisfied.
Strings Attached doesn’t release until March, but I also recommend Blundell’s earlier YA book, What I Saw and How I Lied, another noir mystery set in post-WWII Miami.