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.)
"This book makes me believe that one man can make a difference. The life and teachings of Jerry Kupchynsky, affectionately known as Mr K, certainly did for his daughter Melanie and her friend Joanne Lipman, and for legions of students whose lives were affected and changed by the powerful vision of this passionate, complex man. Even more importantly, this book reveals how music can become an anchor, a binding element for creating friendship and support during times of grief, illness and tragedy. By being inspired, the authors themselves become inspirational. Mr. K's work lives on, and we are all the richer for it."—Yo-Yo Ma
"A joy to read--an affecting, emotional, triumphant story."—Amy Chua, Yale Law Professor and author of BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER
"Moving and motivating.... While tactics like [Mr. K's] may not have earned his students' immediate devotion, they never forgot him and often found the could achieve more than they ever dreamed.... A Must Read."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review"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