How well do you know your cousins?

Would you agree that a close-knit extended family like the one in my novel What’s Left, is uncommon in today’s American society? Of my own five surviving first-cousins, only one remains in communication — a brief note every Christmas. None grew up in our city; two lived in the other corner of our state; the other four, at the time, in California.


In a passage I cut from the final version:

It wasn’t quite like that when Baba shows up, but only because we kids aren’t yet on the scene. First, we need some marriages, like when Barney and Pia get a new generation rolling, followed by Tito and Yin and then my parents.


And if Cassia’s uncle Dimitri or her aunt Nita had been adding to the gene pool, we’d have an even bigger slate of first-cousins to draw on. When it came to the novel, I had to limit things somewhere.

Have you ever been introduced to family members and found yourself asking yourself: Just who are these strangers? Have you enjoyed some of your kin at one point in your life but not at others? Do you ever feel some have been treated better than the rest?


Do you ever get lost when older members of your family start mentioning so-and-so? Just how do they all fit together?

6 thoughts on “How well do you know your cousins?

    1. Yeah, I’d love to know the fuller story, which would be so different from my own family roots. I came across it too late to use it as a prompt for the novel, but it rather confirms what I was finding in my research and plot developmet.

      1. Those people in that photo are fascinating, very arresting to the eye. I can just see the kids when the photo shoot was over: when do we eat?

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