HarperTeen, 2008 ISBN: 0061256277
Teens Phoebe and Deirdre are not thrilled to have a cousin they’ve never heard of come to live with them. They refuse to share a room, and their mother prepares a corner in the musty basement blocked off with cardboard boxes. When Leonard arrives, they are even more dismayed. He swishes, he wears outrageous outfits, he’s as queer-seeming as can be. Phoebe tries to warn him to change his ways, but he doesn’t get it, replying that he’s just being himself.
Where he does make a big difference is in their mother’s hair salon: he convinces his aunt it’s time for a new hairstyle, make-up, and clothing, and then he moves on to the other, mostly older clients, offering new, more modern hairstyles, and even convincing some of them to update their wardrobes.
Unfortunately, as Phoebe has predicted, he runs into trouble with other kids, particularly a couple of older bullies, Travis and Curtis.
When he disappears, suspicion falls in a wide arc, including Phoebe’s father, and the high school drama coach. The discovery of the real culprit is revealed in a very suspenseful scene, but the book doesn’t end there as so many mysteries do.
Instead, many moral and ethical questions are explored by Phoebe in the aftermath, and she finds she has grown up to find her world full of contradictions and ambiguities.