November Library Book of The Month: Cousins by Karen McManus

November Library Book of The Month: Cousins by Karen McManus

Stevie D. Rosenfeld, Author

Author Karen M. McManus

      With Thanksgiving not far behind us, it’s easy to feel like your family is on the verge of imploding. No one can agree, everyone’s under pressure, and you’re more than happy that there’s a whole year before you have to see them again. But Karen McManus’ 2020 mystery book, Cousins, may make you a little more thankful for your family this year. 

      Cousins is the tale of siblings who received a cryptic note from their wealthy mother, Mildred Story, that simply read “You know what you did.” Despite the fact that none of the family members could decipher her meaning, none of Mildred’s children were able to get in contact with her after that, and spent the next 20 years growing apart and wondering. They barely interacted at all. That is, until their children all receive mysterious letters from Mildred offering to employ them at her expensive hotel on her private island. But as the summer progresses, formerly estranged cousins Millie, Jonah, and Audrey begin to wonder why their families were excommunicated in the first place, and why they are being called together now. However, they soon begin to realize that Mildred may not truly know either. 

      The trio now has to piece together the mystery of their-and their parents’-lives, while also trying to reassemble their family. But as they continue on their journey, motives are called into question and cousins turned against each other. Were they only there to ensure inheritance? Would they sell each other out for Mildred’s favor? How far will their parents push them? How far are they willing to bend? How can your family protect you, if they’re the ones you need protecting from?

      While Cousins does follow the conventions of YA mystery and can be called a “beach read,” it also entails deep character explorations that demonstrate how one person’s issues can affect their entire family. Because the story is told from the perspectives of all three cousins, the reader is able to see how each of their individual actions, no matter how small, ripple out and impact the others. Family members are connected to each other from birth, and Cousins is truly about all the good and bad that comes with that connection.

      Family is tricky, especially when everyone is looking out for number one. Cousins demonstrates how strong a bond can form between family members who come together and fight against the people trying to control their lives. Blood is thicker than water, but to prove it, someone has to bleed.