Cooney, the successful author of such tough-subject books as The Face on the Milk Carton, now brings us Family Reunion. In it, she goes inside a dysfunctional family as they reunite with their perfectly stable relatives, only to make readers wonder if the dysfunctional family isn't the better adjusted clan.

Shelley's dad is on Wife No. 3, her mom lives in France and her pubescent brother insists on carrying around a prosthetic leg just to embarrass his stepmother. Now their midwestern, seemingly perfect relatives have planned a reunion. But Shelley has bigger problems—her dad will be away on business, her older sister is with Mom in Paris and, worse still, there's a rumor that her dad has a son from his first marriage.

Shelley is too self-aware for a 15-year-old, so the reader feels that it's Cooney explaining things to us instead of her characters. Still, this book is good for any kid whose parents are divorced—it might help them see that there really is no definition of a "normal" family. What a relief! (Feb., 208 pp., $11.99)

Reviewed by: 
Taylor Morris