Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.)
The ALAN Review - Amy Beth Maupin
At twelve years old, Cammy Coleman is still trying to cope with her cousin Patty Ann's tragic death. Cammy and her other cousin Elodie witnessed the drowning, and ever since have been the closest of friends. Their friendship is interrupted, however, when the family reunion brings two cousins from New York City to town. With them comes shocking family secrets and a clash of cultures. Cammy, Elodie, Fractal, and Gigi learn not only about each other, but about some of life's most difficult issues. Virginia Hamilton masterfully portrays a world that is both believable and engaging. Her readers will identify with Second Cousins, and they will most certainly learn from them as well. Cammy Coleman and her family were first introduced in Hamilton's Cousins, published in 1990.
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
Twelve-year-old Cammy Coleman has so many relatives it's hard to keep them straight. It works out better to call them all second cousins. And now, second cousins she never even knew she had are gathering in town for the big reunion. It's hard to get excited about anything since the awful accident last year when Cammy and her cousin Elodie witnessed the drowning of another cousin, Patricia Ann. The only calming influence in Cammy's life is Gran Tut, but she's staring off into memories much of the time. Cousins flood into town; Cammy befriends a girl about her age who calls herself Fractal. Fractal teaches Cammy about fractal computer art, graphics, and the internet. But what is it that everyone seems to know about Fractal except Cammy? What is the strange bond they seem to share? In this touching story, a followup to the novel, Cousins, Virginia Hamilton makes visible the invisible thread that weaves families together, and she makes a little less mysterious the "sweet mystery, the way they could be at once close with far relatives."
VOYA - Joyce Sparrow
Featuring characters from her earlier novel Cousins (Philomel, 1990/VOYA February 1991), Hamilton continues her multi-generational story showing the powerful force of love that binds an extended family together. A reunion is planned for the family of twelve-year-old Cammy Coleman who lives in the country with her mother, grandmother, brother, and third cousin. Cammy asks many questions about all the relatives who will be visiting, deciding to end the confusion of so many first and third cousins by calling every cousin a second cousin. Cammy's rationalization explodes when she learns that Jahnina Madison (affectionately called Fractal because of her portable computer), the "second cousin" from Queens, New York, is really her half-sister. Before the family secret about their true relationship is revealed, Cammy and Fractal see themselves as country mouse and city mouse; Cammy improves her computer skills with Fractal and in turn Cammy teaches Fractal how to pull the mustard greens that are needed for the picnic meal. One special touch in this story is the emphasis placed on family meals. The adults, including lovable Grandmother Tut, are forever serving mouth-watering lunches and dinners: fresh vegetable soup, baked chicken, platters of ham, cornbread, and chocolate cakes. These meals, together with the family time spent in the kitchen and dining room, give the story a magical touch. The novel ends with Cammy handling the shock and resentment she feels, and agreeing to stay in touch with Fractal by e-mail. With encouragement, middle readers will enjoy this meaningful family story and the computer story line will interest many readers. The initial chapters rely heavily on differentiating between what Cammy is thinking and speaking, but they serve as an excellent introduction to Hamilton's writing technique. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal - 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