Available September 9th, 2014
Wendy Lamb Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Hardcover 336 pages
To Buy - Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo
Goodreads- For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.
This novel isn't at all what I was expecting. It had a hint of sadness throughout the novel, sometimes more than sadness and more than a hint. From an 11 yr old's perspective, her mother's diagnosis of a serious illness and her worsening depression about it seems like something she can cure with a dance, making her mother laugh, reminding her of the good times they had in the past. But Chirp doesn't know what depression is and her psychiatrist father doesn't explain it to her or her older sister Rachel. So when Mom's condition worsens and Chirp's attempts haven't helped, she turns to birdwatching and her friendship with the boy next door, Joey with troubles of his own.
If you're looking for a light read, this isn't it. It's about a family falling apart and putting themselves back together. It's so interesting that the mother has both a "serious disease" and depression. The "serious disease" the mother has, Multiple Sclerosis, is diagnosed by physical symptoms and then confirmed by a neurologist. Yet, depression is also a "serious disease" and in the story there are clues that the mom had a hard childhood (sometimes a contributing factor) and this is not her first time experiencing depression. The mother also gives clues that she is not doing well that she is "much worse, much worse, much worse," than her psychiatrist husband sees. Chirp overhears all this and doesn't want to see any of this herself.
And then there's Joey's story. The boy next door who is a bit OCD about hygiene and placing things just so, yet he seems to be sensitive to Chirp's story. He has troubles of his own, big brothers that bully him and bruises and marks on his body that don't go unnoticed by Chirp. The beginning of the story has him throwing rocks outside his house because he is locked out of his house on purpose during dinner. Yet he shows a maturity and understanding of what Chirp needs.
My overall impression is that it was just a little off the mark for me. The writing didn't quite hit the spot, I wasn't quite in love with the characters and I didn't understand Chirp and where her story led her. I was also not a fan of the ending. The dad promises something to Joey, as if he knows something we don't, and then doesn't deliver.
This is a middle grade book and though it wasn't for me I have read other reviews that thought the writing and story were stunning. This should be for a more mature middle grade reader as this novel has themes of child abuse, depression and suicide. I hope as you read it, you'll remember that Depression is as serious a disease as the "serious disease" the mother is diagnosed with and just like a laugh or a beautiful child can't cure Multiple Sclerosis, neither can it cure Depression.
Thanks to Random House for the E-ARC for review through NetGalley. My review was in no way influenced by this. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.