cover image Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Caroline B. Cooney. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-05836-9

One can see where Cooney's story is going from its early pages: Shelley, who has been through her parents' divorce and their subsequent remarriages views another, non-divorced family as perfect, before discovering that no one configuration of people means ``family.'' But nothing else about the book is predictable. Shelley, her stepmother and embarrassingly obnoxious younger brother set off for a family reunion (with the ``perfect family'') in Iowa. Her father is on a business trip and her older sister is in Paris with their mother and stepfather. Afraid that she's about to meet her father's son by another woman, Shelley goes to the reunion full of expectations that mostly remain unfulfilled. Instead, she discovers the value of cousins and of imperfect family members, and witnesses her father's own coming to terms with his roots. Cooney sometimes second-guesses herself, introducing and retracting plot threads, not always to dramatic effect. But she tells her story with verve and instills in her characters realistic qualities to which readers will respond. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)