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Her Stories

by Virginia Hamilton

Publishers Weekly Hamilton fans who have wondered what happened to Cammy Coleman after the death of her cousin Patty Ann will find the answer in this sequel to Cousins, which introduces many new members of the Coleman clan. The author's on-target dialogue and skillfully drawn characterizations compensate for the book's uneven pacing. However, some audience members (especially those unfamiliar with the novel's predecessor) may have trouble sorting out minor characters. Cammy herself feels a bit overwhelmed by the onslaught of Colemans, who arrive in her town for a reunion; she decides to call them all "second cousins." One such relative, Jahnina ("outa New York. Queens"), both fascinates and repels the 12-year-old heroine. Brimming with city smarts, computer know-how and self-confidence, 13-year-old Jahnina offers more than one form of enlightenment, and the scenes between Cammy and her are the high points of the novel. This drama reflects the day-to-day squabbles, disappointments and tensions that plague every household. More pointedly, Hamilton conveys the eternal, unshakable love that binds family members together. Ages 11-up. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In the first few chapters of this sequel to Hamilton's Cousins (Philomel, 1990), Cammy Coleman is still reacting emotionally to the tragic drowning death the previous summer of her close cousin Patty Ann. This summer's big event is the family reunion, with cousins, second cousins, third cousins, and more coming from far and wide to Cammy's small town. After a rocky start, she forms a special friendship with Jahnina, also known as Fractal, who is from New York City. (The various characters all seem to have one or more nicknames, which may create some confusion for readers.) As the girls get to know one another better and better, however, Cammy is unable to accept the true nature of their relationship-they are half sisters. Through dialect and believable actions and outcomes, Hamilton's characters spring to life. Punchy sentence fragments accurately reflect the rush of emotion felt by preadolescents as they are inevitably introduced to the complications of adulthood and family dynamics. Although the plot is thin and the tone somewhat uneven, the emotional truths are both dramatic and real. Hamilton's fans and those interested in the joys and heartaches of growing up will enjoy the extended Coleman family.-Peg Solonika, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. In this sequel to Hamilton's astonishing novel Cousins (1990), it's a year later, and 12-year-old Cammy and her family are still in anguish over the drowning of her cousin Patty Ann. The story is not as focused this time, partly because there is such a huge cast of characters to keep straight as the extended family gathers for a summertime reunion in Cammy's small Ohio town. At the center of the story is a family secret that has been kept from Cammy all her life: just who exactly is the girl Fractal from Queens, New York, who teaches Cammy how to use a computer and travel through cyberspace? Why is Fractal in Cammy's father's house? Cammy discovers that her loving parents did wrong, are wrong, and are far from the perfect image she has always had of them. At the same time, she sees that the river that drowned her cousin is also a source of renewal and union and connection. The metaphors are sometimes overworked, but the secret will hold readers--the drama between the mean and the nice in everyone. --Hazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.