Family First, Always

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.


I really do enjoy books by this author. Her characters are always so likable and believable and her mysteries always leave you guessing till the very end. This new book is just as good as the others, and will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

The present day part of the story is told mostly by the three cousins. There are some flashbacks to what happened 20 years ago that caused the rift in the Story family which are told by Allison the only daughter of that generation. Flashbacks told by someone not involved in the main story do not always work, but they do in this case and was a good way for that part of the story to be told.

Milly was a little bit hard to warm up to, but once I did she quickly astonished me with her smarts and loyalty to her cousins. She does at first come off a bit shallow and self serving, but as she gets to know Jonah and Audrey, her true self starts to shine through.

Even though Jonah was a bit of jerk at first, I kind of liked him. Once the truth of his past comes out, I liked him even more. He was actually kind of funny in many of his observations, although he was a bit of a hot head which got himself and the others in trouble at times.

Aubrey was amazing. I really liked her the best. She was also smart and pretty brave, but she had her doubts about her cousins and their situation mostly under control. She was maybe the one to loose the most in this whole situation.

The plot was really fast moving after a little bit of a slow start. There were many layers to this story and to the mystery of why their parents had been cut off by their mother. The setting was good, although a bit unbelievable maybe. It has both the small town vibe and the rich vs. townies issues that are common in New England. But the setting was really my only complaint. I loved the way the cousins mostly worked together to both discover the answers to their problems and how their families troubles influenced their decisions. I also like how the story that Allison was telling wove into the present day story of the cousins.

Another win for this author. If you liked her other books you will be sure to enjoy this one too.


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