My Crazy Cousin Courtney by Judi Miller, 1993.
Cathy Bushwick usually spends the summer at camp, but this summer, her mother is having her stay in the city because her cousin Courtney is coming to visit them in New York. Cathy and Courtney are actually second cousins because their mothers are first cousins. They’re the same age (thirteen) and met once when they were five, but neither of them remembers it. All that Cathy really knows about Courtney before she arrives is that she’s somewhat neurotic (Courtney is troubled by anxiety and panic attacks) and that the reason she’s coming to visit is that her parents are thinking of getting a divorce and need time alone to discuss it.
Cathy understands what it’s like to live with a single parent. Her parents are divorced, and her father went to California years ago to become an actor. She hasn’t heard from him since. Her mother used to be an actress, but with Cathy to take care of, she became a theatrical agent for animals instead (she finds animals for people to use in commercials). So, when Cathy hears that Courtney will be visiting from Beverly Hills, she’s very excited. At first, she hopes that she and Courtney will be like sisters and that Courtney might have even heard of her father in California.
Cathy’s illusions are shattered almost immediately. Courtney not only hasn’t heard of her father but she’s nothing like Cathy imagined. When she and her mother go to meet her at the airport, she’s wearing heart-shaped sunglasses and a hot pink shirt that says, “KISS ME QUICK,” and she has a pile of luggage. She’s used to having money and getting the best of everything, and she’s immediately disappointed with the modest apartment where Cathy and her mother live. When she learns that they don’t even have a pool, she gets upset and wants to go home. But, it’s no use. She’s stuck there for the summer. And, they’re stuck with her.
But, things don’t turn out to be as bad as Cathy fears they’re going to be. In some ways, they’re worse. Once Courtney reconciles herself to spending the summer in New York, she has some very specific ideas about things that she’d like to do, and a lot of them end up getting the girls in trouble. Shy, sensible Cathy finds herself getting locked in Tiffany’s after closing time because Courtney thought she saw a spy stealing their designs, rescuing Courtney from the dolphin pool at the aquarium, and lots of other things that she never thought she’d find herself doing. Then, one day, the girls think they’ve witnessed a murder. What are they going to do? Is Cathy going to survive the summer with her crazy cousin Courtney?
This book is the first in a series about Cathy and Courtney. Courtney may be a bit wild, but she’s not as crazy as Cathy thinks. Over the course of the summer, the two become friends, and they learn quite a few things about each other and about themselves. By the time Courtney has to go home, a little of each of them has rubbed off on the other, and neither will be quite the same again.