I’m calling Strangers and Cousins a “summer read” because it’s largely about a family gathering for a wedding and that feels like a quintessential beach read to me. I’m getting married this fall and am already kind of dreading the unavoidable deluge of distant relatives, so it also felt a little personal, up until the point I started reading it.
Cohen may have been better served had she pared things down a bit. There’s a wedding AND the town is in crisis AND the parents may sell the house AND the mom is pregnant again AND the family matriarch is old and ill AND a multitude of relatives descend AND there’s deadly town history. It’s a lot and it’s hard to sort A plot from B plot from C plot. It all kind of mashes together.
There’s a whole thing where there was a horrible fire in the town when the matriarch was a little girl and it’s meant to be a haunting backburner plot with a stunning reveal that really falls so flat. Hager Cohen peels story back to tell us that the eldest daughter is marrying (gasp!) another woman in such a way that feels like it’s meant to be shocking, which says more about her than about the reader (after that, though, the relationship is an ordinary relationship, which is nice). The wedding itself is done as an art student project type thing but also meant to be serious which I feel like means they were for-sure too young for this. Plus the book is peppered with weird, one-page fast forwards that feel really out of place.
Ah well. I read it. It’s over. On to the next.
Bingo Square: Summer Read