For twelve-year-old Adele, Balance is everything. When she decides her mother can no longer be her hero and despairs that her big boisterous family will ever cultivate any elegance, she finds a shadowy Internet friend who seems to have answers.

Enjoy reading the first chapter for free. Download here –  Ch One – Balance. Or better yet, click on the book cover (on the left) for your own copy, either e-book or print.

The Story:

Last year Adele thought her big family was fun and her mother was .her hero. But this year her mother is definitely not cool and her family is a complete embarrassment. Adele loves elegance and proper manners, but none of that happens in her family anymore.

Last year she could at least depend on her own body, but now she doesn’t know what to feel. Her body is becoming a strange complication all on its own. Adele turns to her cultured cousins and the family’s French-speaking nanny who should know how to get through it all. They don’t.

Then Adele turns to a shadowy Internet friend who claims she could be a Long-Lost-Cousin-Maybe. And pretty soon Adele’s in big trouble.

The Cousin Cycle:

Balance is the second book in The Cousin Cycle, but they don’t really need to be read in the age order of the protagonists. These stories tell about a year when everything that can go wrong in the family, does go wrong. Don’t be surprised when the books’ narrators have individual and sometimes contradictory points of view. Who’s telling the truth?

Your Reading Group:

When you get together with friends to discuss a good book, it’s fun to have a jump-off place. Try these ideas to get the conversation off to a flying start! Discussion Questions for Balance.


A unique aspect of Jean Stringam’s work is the song she writes for each book. She says that after living with her protagonists for many months, she begins to hear the song they sing. The song doesn’t match a particular scene in the story as often happens in musical theatre. Instead, think of the song as an expression of the character’s soul, the essence of the person.

Adele’s song, “All I Want” showcases the dichotomy of her adolescent emotions. The verses are snarly, but the chorus is dreamy.  Download a copy of the lyrics and piano accompaniment for Adele’s song, All I Want. Enjoy!

Back Cover:

“Standing there in the shade, the lake shimmering under the summer sun, Adele made a mental list of the insupportable aspects of her life: The lake house was jam-packed with noisy people, June wasn’t even over yet (which left a long stretch to endure), and there were still two more weeks before the party. Adele was desperate. She decided to retreat into silence. That would teach everybody in her family she simply had to have more time alone.”

What the Critics Say about Balance:

Book Review Board:

The story is rich in drama, humor, rites of passage, grief, failures, family dynamics, and values . . . The eloquent phrasing and vocabulary adds variety and interest . . . French phrases and short sentences are included throughout the pages during conversations; a delightful way for the author to expose readers to this beautiful and poetic language.


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