Strangers and Cousins

(2019) In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to maintain harmony.

"My top recommendation for this summer”

– Ron Charles, The Washington Post | May 14, 2019

Meanwhile, Aunt Glad, the oldest member of the family, arrives for the wedding plagued by long-buried memories of a scarring event that occurred when she was a girl in Rundle Junction. As she uncovers details about her role in this event, the family begins to realize Clem’s wedding may not be exactly what it seemed. Clever, passionate, artistic Clem has her own agenda. What she doesn’t know is that by the end, everyone will have roles to play in this richly-imagined ceremony of familial connection — a brood of quirky relatives, effervescent college friends, ghosts emerging from the past, a determined little mouse, and even the very group of new neighbors whose presence has shaken Rundle Junction to its core.

In vivid and searing prose, Leah Hager Cohen delivers a story of pageantry and performance, a meditation on hopefulness and growth, and a winsome, unforgettable cast of characters whose lives are forever changed by events that unfold and reverberate across generations.

Strangers and Cousins | read by the author

Praise for Strangers and Cousins:


The Washington Post:

The perfect summer novel: ‘Strangers and Cousins’ is an unusually substantive comedy

“‘Strangers and Cousins’ floats on the waters of a society in flux, an America still trying to figure out who we really are. Cohen’s ability to acknowledge the agony of that strife in the context of a modern, loving family makes this one of the most hopeful and insightful novels I’ve read in years.” full review →

May 7, 2019 | By Ron Charles


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“[A] serious yet joyous comedy...Cohen’s demonstration of a modern family, and the hopes it may have, are a triumph and well worth your read." full review →

May 10, 2019 | By Fran Tirado


“Cohen perfectly captures the chaos of a big family event, with all the personalities and baggage that come with the territory, adeptly mixing humor and sentiment to create an intoxicatingly rich story that bursts off the page with life.” full review →

May 16, 2019 | By Bridget Thoreson

Publishers Weekly:

Strangers and Cousins (Starred Review)

“Cohen’s captivating, lyrical latest takes on the wedding novel and deepens it ...This enticing novel shimmers among its many well-defined points of view, exploring the psychic depths of a seemingly ordinary event." full review →

May 2019