We had so much fun discussing The Cousins at our recent virtual YA book club. Instead of just telling you our thoughts, we’re going to mention a few of our discussion questions and reactions from the group.
Have you read McManus’s latest YA book? Let us know your answers to our questions in the comments!
Milly, Aubrey and Jonah Story have never met their grandmother. Years ago, she disinherited their parents and cut off all contact. Out of the blue, she sends them letters inviting them to stay at her resort on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts for the summer. Their parents make them go, hoping Milly, Aubrey and Jonah can reclaim the family inheritance.
Only, it’s a lot more complicated than that. When they arrive on the island, nobody seems to expect them. Their grandmother keeps them at arms length, but the more time the cousins spend on the island, the more they realize the dark family secrets that have been hidden for the past 25 years.
1. What was your initial reaction to the book? Did it hook you immediately, or take some time to get into?
We all agreed that this book hooked us immediately. McManus knows how to write a mystery. The setting of a small tourist island combined with family mystery had us intrigued. The dual POVs between Milly, Jonah, and Aubrey kept us interested and wanting to learn more about their parents and why they were disinherited. We figured it had to do with murder, but it ended up being so much more!
2. What made the setting unique or important? Could the story have taken place anywhere?
The story had to be set on an island. Someone in our group pointed out that if it took place in a big city, the characters could easily leave. The fact that the island was so remote and off the coast of Massachusetts played an important part in the story. The island could not have been in any other part of the country, considering the nautical vibes.
McManus wrote vivid descriptions of the island so it almost felt like we were there with the Story family. The beaches and the rough terrain enhanced the plot.
3. Which character did you relate to the most, and what was it about them that you connected with?
This question had mixed responses. We agreed that Milly was our favorite. We like a smart, sassy MC who everyone underestimates. She took charge and didn’t put up with any BS.
The guys in the group both picked Jonah, no surprise. They liked that he seemed the most down to earth out of all the characters. He also overcame a lot of challenges. Jonah had the most shocking story line of the three cousins early on, so he basically had a built-in wow factor.
Other members liked Aubrey for her girl next door vibes. She started as Milly’s sidekick, but eventually gained confidence and stood up to her doubters. Plus, Aubrey had the most character growth overall.
Everyone also thought that out of the four story siblings, Archer was the best and Allison second. Nobody liked Anders or Adam, which made total sense. They were evil.
4. How did you feel about the ending? What did you like, what did you not like, and what do you wish had been different?
We all really enjoyed the ending, which left us shocked. McManus has a way of ending her books that always leaves us with our mouths agape. In this case, the letter at the end left a lot to be interpreted and had us questioning one character’s intentions. It also made us wonder if a sequel is in the works.
Our only gripe with the ending was that a lot of the evidence felt very convenient. The cousins stumbled upon some damaging information that just happened to lead them in the right direction. We loved that Aubrey was the one to finally piece it all together, though. It brought her character full circle.