Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Family Reunion
  • Written by Caroline B. Cooney
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307567536
  • Our Price: $5.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Family Reunion

Family Reunion

Written by Caroline B. CooneyAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Caroline B. Cooney


List Price: $5.99


On Sale: July 01, 2009
Pages: 208 | ISBN: 978-0-307-56753-6
Published by : Laurel Leaf RH Childrens Books
Family Reunion Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Family Reunion
  • Email this page - Family Reunion
  • Print this page - Family Reunion


When the invitation to the Preffyn family reunion arrives interrupting a perfectly decent summer vacation, 15-year-old Shelley Wollcott is anything but enthusiastic. It’s not that Shelley has anything against her relatives, she just can’t stand it when they give her that “what a pity” look. It’s not her fault that her real mother walked out on the family or that her father has remarried yet again. With Dad away on business and her older sister visiting their mother in Paris, Shelley must face the “perfect” Preffyns’ reunion with only her prankster younger brother and her insecure new stepmother at her side. It’s an opportunity to uncover the family’s secrets, but Shelley isn’t sure whether, when she discovers the truth, she’ll laugh or cry.

In this funny and poignant novel by Caroline B. Cooney, Shelley learns to appreciate all the members of her unusual family—including herself!—in ways she never anticipated. And she discovers things are often not as perfect as they seem.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One

It began when we found out that our new summer house had an old bomb shelter in the backyard, and my brother, Angus, decided to sell time-shares in it. Angus is twelve and a terrific salesman. He used to sell my Girl Scout cookies for me, and not once did a customer ask why a boy with a crew cut was in the Girl Scouts. He has red hair and freckles, and I think there is something about red hair and freckles that makes strangers relax their defenses and buy, buy, buy.

Soon after we examined our bomb shelter, Angus divided the year into fifty-two weeks and went off to sell ten shares per week of year-round, lifetime, come-as-you-are survival shelter use.

It was that "come-as-you-are" line that people liked. You could tell it soothed them to know that when the bomb fell, they wouldn't have to dress up to take advantage of their time-share.

"But Angus," I said. "What if the bomb falls in July and somebody bought a lifetime first-week-in-March use?"

Angus drew a long, slow, sad finger across his throat. "Poor planning," he told me. "People have to think ahead. Know their global politics." He turned to his latest potential buyer, an innocent Vermont child with an untouched allowance. "Or better yet," Angus said joyfully, "buy a share in each week of the year! That way you'll never have to worry."

Before Daddy found out and stopped him, Angus had sold seventy-two shares. He had even worked out the division of each shareholder's right to the cans of Campbell's soup still in the bomb shelter. I personally would be worried about chicken noodle soup from 1958.

Daddy went berserk. "We bought this summer house because you were going to enjoy fresh air! Swim in the lake! Fish for trout! Climb every mountain! People said that children need a backyard for a normal, stable upbringing, and so I said, Okay, June through August they'll have a backyard. I'll make these kids stable if it kills me. So what happens? You come up here from New York City, demoralize all these nice Vermont kids, rip off their allowances, and sell them . . ."

Daddy paused.

He was praying that Angus would admit he hadn't really sold time-shares to a bomb shelter; he had really gotten all that money from a paper route.

"Dad, it's a new idea," said Angus proudly. "A fresh concept. I bet nobody else in Vermont is doing it."

Daddy got a grip on himself and asked what Angus had been charging.

"Ten dollars a share, Dad. It's a bargain. Everybody saw that right off."

My father is a large man, well over six feet, with shoulders like a yardstick. Whenever he has to deal with Angus, he takes very deep breaths, so his chest rises, and his jacket lifts and his shirt buttons reach a state of high tension. I think of him as a rocket about to launch. I worry about the explosion.

"Angus," said my father, "we have hardly arrived in this town. So far I know the guy who installed the extra phone line, the mailman and the waitress at the coffee shop."

"Gee, Dad, that's a shame. I've met everybody. I've been going door-to-door for days."

Daddy's chest sank back to resting position. He looked up at the ceiling, which in our summer house is quite close to his head. He frequently communes with its cracks. Then he stared at his sweet-faced son and said he had just remembered pressing business back in New York City. He'd be gone for weeks. Possibly all summer. It was up to Angus and me and Annette (our stepmother) to go door-to-door, return all the money and apologize for anybody in our wholesome little family even thinking of selling bomb shares.

Angus had, however, earned seven hundred and twenty dollars. The thought of giving it back was not a happy one. He put on the expression of a puppy at the pound, entreating us to give him love and affection. Earnestly he explained that this sort of thing looked really great on a college application.

Daddy said this kind of thing would make any reasonable college admissions office bar the door.

Angus said he thought he would write Grandma about it, because Grandma was always proud of him, even if nobody else was.

Daddy said if Angus went and told Grandma, Daddy would kill him. Daddy's chest began expanding alarmingly. Angus backed up a bit.

I backed up completely and said I would go check the mail.

Mail is the best thing about having a summer house in Vermont. The big black box pokes up out of tall white daisies and high grass on the other side of a narrow country road, and when the little red flag is down, you know your mail has come.

Vermont is entirely treed. You'd think they had a genuine fear of open spaces and views. Trees curve in over roads and houses and towns, wave upon wave, as if local zoning laws require you to live in a green aquarium. Only the lake, being filled with water, is barren of trees.

I walked through the filtered sun and pulled down the little curved door of the black mailbox. I wasn't actually expecting any mail, because everybody we know uses e-mail or the phone. But there was a letter from Aunt Maggie.

Aunt Maggie is Daddy's older sister. She lives out in the Midwest, where she and her family lead A Perfect Life. We call them the Perfects, because it's rather like their real last name, which is Preffyn. In the old days, when we were sort of perfect ourselves, we used to visit them, but we don't anymore. Daddy says he doesn't have the energy.

Aunt Maggie married Uncle Todd, and she is lovely, and he is handsome, and she is chairman of the school board, and he is a pharmacist. They have a backyard, of course, have always had a backyard, and therefore their children, Brett and Carolyn, are also Perfect. Brett is sixteen and Carolyn is fourteen, and they never were awkward or fat, never had braces, never had pimples, never got anything below a B+. In gym they are always team captains. In photographs, they are always smiling and attractive. That is just the kind of family they are.

When they used to visit us in New York City, we would walk down the sidewalk and point to perfectly innocent people waiting for the bus and whisper, "Careful. Drug deal." Carolyn and Brett always fell for that and told their mother, and Aunt Maggie would say that if we just had a backyard to play in, we would be stable, like her kids.

From the Hardcover edition.
Caroline B. Cooney

About Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B. Cooney - Family Reunion

Photo © Jane Feldman

“What more can life hold, than to know that because of your story, somebody out there has decided to read again!”—Caroline B. Cooney

Caroline B. Cooney's books have received several honors, including an IRA–CBC Children's Choice and being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.


Award-winning author Caroline B. Cooney knows what young adults like to read. In fact, Cooney’s all-time favorite fan letter came from a 12-year-old girl who hated reading. But after being forced to read one of Cooney’s books, the girl admitted it had not been a waste of time and had even been enjoyable. “And so,” wrote the girl, “I have come to an important decision. I am writing to tell you that I have decided to read a second book.”

Caroline Cooney was born in 1947 and grew up in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. This prolific author was always ambitious, and as a youth, loved school and was involved in many different activities. Cooney was also an avid reader and recalls that series books such as The Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames were her favorites. These characters had a big influence on her life, and in fact, she says that “Cherry Ames, Student Nurse was my reason to go to nursing school in Boston later in life.”

Cooney began writing in college. She professes,“I love writing and do not know why it is considered such a difficult, agonizing profession. I love all of it, thinking up the plots, getting to know the kids in the story, their parents, backyards, pizza toppings.”

Cooney is a master of mixing spellbinding suspense with thought-provoking insight into teenagers’ lives. One of her most popular books is The Face on the Milk Carton—the gripping story of a young girl who discovers that the picture of a missing child on a milk carton is actually a picture of herself. After writing this book, Cooney received hundreds of letters from readers who were bothered by the ending. “It wasn’t that they didn’ t like the ending, it was that they wanted some kind of resolution. Some said I should have written another chapter.” However, Cooney says she liked leaving the reader worrying about the character just as they would a real person. But one day, her daughter, Sayre, had an idea for a sequel that was so good, Cooney had to write it. The book that evolved was called Whatever Happened to Janie? Continuing where that novel leaves off, Cooney explores the themes of betrayal and peer pressure in The Voice on the Radio. Concluding the Janie Quartet is What Janie Found, in which Cooney masterfully spins a suspenseful story of family secrets that will have readers captivated until the very last word.

Cooney’s novel Burning Up explores the destructive nature of hatred, the crime of indifference, and the power of accepting love and responsibility.

In The Ransom of Mercy Carter, Cooney looks at an actual historic event that had been virtually unexplored in literature for young people. During a 1704 Indian attack on the Deerfield, Massachusetts, settlement, Mercy Carter is separated from her family and taken to a Kahnawake Indian village in Canada. As she awaits ransom, she discovers that the “savages” have traditions and family life that in time become her own.

Cooney completed her Time Travel Quartet with For All Time. In her novel Goddess of Yesterday, Cooney brings ancient Greece to life through careful research and master storytelling.

Most recently Cooney's Diamonds in the Shadow was named a 2008 ALA/YALSA Quick Pick and was a nominee for the Edgar Allen Poe Awards. Her latest gripping thriller, If the Witness Lied, details how love, devotion, and forgiveness make resilience—and recovery—possible.


Born: May 10 in Geneva, New York
Education: Greenwich, CT schools and various colleges
Residence: Westbrook, CT
Children: Louisa, Sayre (rhymes with fair), Harold
Inspiration for writing: I love a good story. I love to make things up.
Favorite hobbies: I read a lot. I buy books. I'm in a library (I use several) or a bookstore almost every day because I have to be around other people's books, too. I sing in several choirs, or play the piano for them.
Favorite foods: I'm omnivorous.
Favorite books: I read series books: Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, was the reason I went to nursing school. But my favorite series, and the only one I saved, was Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager.



"Cooney's new psychologically penetrating page-turner immediately grabs readers then hangs on tight up to its satisfying conclusion."—Kirkus

"Anchored by a poignant sibling reunion, this family-drama-turned-thriller will have readers racing, heart in throat, to reach the conclusion." —Horn Book


"Crackling language and nailbiting cliffhangers provide an easy way into the novel's big ideas, transforming topics that can often seem distant and abstract into a grippingly immediate reading experience." —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and much of Greek tragedy make appearances in Anaxandra’ s tale, one that is as vivid as her red-gold hair. Teen readers will be mesmerized.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“A compulsively readable story and may well lead readers to other Greek myths.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Readers will respond to the author’s candid view of friendship with its intense bonding, rivalry and sudden, surprising meanness.”—Booklist

"Not only a love story and a time-travel fantasy, but also a provocative and powerful examination of women, marriage, and relationships in two centuries.”—School Library Journal

“Convincingly depicted and . . . compellingly chronicled.”—Starred, The Bulletin

"This thought-provoking story has a powerful message, effortlessly woven into the ordinary trappings of a teenager’s life.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A wrenching, breathlessly paced plot and an adrenaline-charged romance make Cooney’s latest novel nearly impossible to put down.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Poignant.”—Starred, Booklist

“Absorbing and convincing. Strong characterizations and suspenseful, impeccably paced action add to this novel’s appeal.”—Publishers Weekly

“A real page-turner.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping and thought provoking.”—Publishers Weekly

“The power and nature of love is wrenchingly illustrated throughout this provocative novel. . . . The emotions of its characters remain excruciatingly real.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“A gripping sequel to The Face on the Milk Carton. . . The gut-wrenching circumstances in which the characters find themselves are honestly conveyed.”—Booklist

“[Cooney] has taken this novel to extraordinary heights.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Readers of Cooney’s addictive The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie? can start licking their chops.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly


“A realistic, sometimes hilarious picture of modern family life.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Cooney’s gifts for humor and characterization are well blended here.”—Kirkus Reviews

From the Hardcover edition.

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: