It’s been a long year. What we need is a good old-fashioned page-turner. Time can feel short during the holidays, especially this year when we have to work a little harder to figure out how to stay safe and uphold beloved traditions. And family is, of course, paramount. So, it is with great pleasure that we announce our next book pick for the Boston.com Book Club is “The Cousins” by Karen M. McManus.
“The Cousins,” released on Dec. 1, is McManus’ fourth novel. If you aren’t familiar with McManus’ work, just check The New York Times bestseller list. Each of her first three books, “One Of Us Is Lying,” “Two Can Keep a Secret” and “One Of Us Is Next,” have all landed on the bestseller list in young adult fiction. Her first book, “One Of Us Is Lying,” has been on the list for 147 weeks. The book will soon be a series on NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, which purchased eight episodes of the show this summer. At my bookstore, “Two Can Keep a Secret” was our favorite book of 2019.
Simply put, there are few writers alive who write murder mysteries like McManus does, and “The Cousins” is no exception. The story centers on three cousins – Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story – who barely know each other, and who have never met their grandmother. Before any of them were born, their rich grandmother – who lives on fictional Gull Cove Island off the coast of Massachusetts where she owns a fancy resort hotel – disowned their parents with a simple letter. It said, “You know what you did.” Except the cousins’ parents had no idea.
Now, the cousins have been invited to work at the hotel for the summer out of the blue. Their summer plans are summarily canceled – they’re island bound whether they like it or not (spoiler: they don’t all like being forced to go). Once they get there though, they quickly realize that things are not what they seem. Someone is immediately trying to get them to leave, and they realize that their grandmother was not expecting them, which is odd, because didn’t she invite them?
McManus layers surprises and twists onto each other at such a rapid pace that every theory you craft as you’re reading will be struck down a chapter or two later. Between the frantic pace, the twists and turns and the longing to escape the pandemic to this island, you won’t be able to put “The Cousins” down. Kirkus Reviews said it’s “another McManus novel worth pulling an all-nighter for,” and I couldn’t agree more, since that’s exactly what I did when I got my hands on an advance copy.
If you’re wrinkling your nose at the fact that we chose a YA book, please don’t. A book is generally considered YA not because its content is less sophisticated than an adult book, but because its protagonist(s) are teenagers or young adults. That’s it, that’s the distinction. In fact, a 2017 study found that 55 percent of YA readers are adults.
Our virtual book discussion with author Karen M. McManus will be held on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m., and will be hosted by Kate Mikell, one of the fabulous managers at Porter Square Books. A titan of the New England indie bookstore world, Porter Square Books is the reigning Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year.
How to join the live event with Karen M. McManus
RSVP to our virtual discussion with author Karen M. McManus with Porter Square Books’ Kate Mikell on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.