I’m using this as my GATEWAY square for bingo, because I think it’s a great place to jump into the world of YA teen intrigue and Karen M. McManus in general.
I’m familiar with McManus’s work because of One of Us is Lying, which I very much enjoyed. I haven’t yet watched the series, but that one book was enough for me to want to read more.
The Cousins follows the tradition of teens solving a mystery on an island. It’s almost gothic in the themes of family, mystery, history, and huge estates. Twenty years ago, and seemingly out of nowhere, Mildred Story disowns her four children and kicks them off of the island they called home – Gull Cove Island: a playground for the less-pretentious rich and famous than, say, Martha’s Vineyard. Mildred hasn’t attempted to contact her children at all in the ensuing time, which is why the family is surprised when she invites three Story grandchildren to work at the resort for the summer. The worldy cousin – Milly – lives in New York City and spends her time after school scamming drinks off of men in restaurant bars. The athletic and earnest Aubrey is hungry for connection with her family, especially in the aftermath of her father’s infidelity and scandal. And Jonah is just looking for a summer job. The three cousins meet for the first time on the ferry over to the Island, and throughout the summer, they get closer while trying to solve the mystery of why their parents were disowned.
Gull Cove Island is filled with characters from the Storys’ past who remember the four children as teens and young adults, but no one seems to know what made Mildred Story cut everyone off so suddenly. Is it the mysterious pregnancy of that summer? The mysterious deaths? The affairs? The money? The secret identities?
The answer will shock you!
That seemed facetious, but the ending is very interesting and it very much surprised me. I would recommend this book as an intro to YA. It’s a quick and simple read, but the story is captivating and the characters are well-realized.