From Publishers Weekly
Part biography of a beloved teacher and father, part memoir, the book's central character, music teacher Jerry Mr. K Kupchynsky, looms larger than life on the page—just as he did for journalist Lipman, one of Mr. K's violists, and Melanie, his elder daughter, now a violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His teaching methods are extreme—cracking the knuckle on a student's thumb to emphasize correct finger placement—but glimpses of his family life soften his image. We learn about how Mr. K fled from both Nazis and Soviets in his native Ukraine during WWII, and about the stress he endured later in life when his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The authors provide intimate details from their lives as well. Central to the book is Melanie's relationship with her younger sister, Stephanie. Lipman and Kupchynsky played together in a string quartet organized by Mr. K, of which Stephanie was also a part. In 1991, Stephanie disappeared from her apartment in upstate New York. The ensuing search, led by the Kupchynsky family and aided by Lipman, provides the mystery around which the reminiscences about Mr. K are organized. Though the book contains less educational philosophy than the foreword suggests, the authors' memories are more powerful for not being embellished with preachy conclusions. Photos. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)
"A vivid, often tender portrait...that ends up ripping your heart out." -USA TODAY
"A very fine dual memoir.... For those who had a figure like Mr. K in their lives, STRINGS ATTACHED will resonate. Everyone else will wish they had been so lucky."
—The New York Times Book Review
"A wonderful, inspiring story of a teacher who pushed his students to do more than they thought they could--and changed their lives."—--Jeanette Walls, bestselling author of The Glass Castle
"A vivid, often tender portrait.... Writing in alternate sections, Lipman and Kupchynsky tell Mr. K's story in plain prose that ends up ripping your heart out."
"Makes me believe that one man can make a difference.... This book reveals how music can become an anchor, a binding element for creating friendship and support during times of grief, illness, and tragedy.... Mr. K's work lives on and we are all the richer for it."—Yo-Yo Ma
"Moving and motivating... While tactics like [Mr. K's] may not have earned his students immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found they could achieve more than they ever dreamed."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Strings Attached gives us many gifts. It allows us to look into the world of music (Melanie Kupchynsky plays today for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra); it reminds us of the promise of America to immigrants with ambition; it gives us a portrait of a man who struggled against great odds in life, who suffered great adversity, but who always forged ahead in spite of his many trials.... It also reminds us to be thankful for those teachers who made a difference in our lives, those who refused to listen to our excuses, those who terrorized us as did Mr. K., who pushed us to overcome obstacles, who took us out of ourselves and helped carry us toward our dreams."—Smoky Mountain News