Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

This is Freshman orientation week for my daughter at college. A whole new life phase has begun. I’ve been wallowing in nostalgia lately, and one piece of that was a mental tabulation of the literary journey I’ve taken with my kids. Because of them, I revisited so many favorites from my own youth and discovered kids' classics I hadn’t gotten around to or known about, as well as a wealth of new children’s literature. It saddens me to think how much of that has trailed off. I still read YA, but not as much as I used to. And I never read middle grade fiction anymore.

So it was fortuitous to see Nest by Esther Ehrlich as a Netgalley offering. I thought, why not? And then I devoured it in a sitting.

Nest is the story of Naomi (Chirp) Orenstein and her neighbor, Joey, two eleven-year-olds with big problems. Chirp’s tight-knit family is on the verge of rupture by her mother’s impending diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and depression. Her father, a psychiatrist, cannot cure his beloved wife’s ills, and has difficulty dealing with a truculent thirteen-year-old daughter (Rachel, Chirp’s sister) and the sensitive Chirp.

Chirp’s lifeline is her friend, Joey, a good kid who’s been dealt a bad hand. He lives next door. His older brothers are bullies, behavior learned from an abusive father. Chirp knows something isn’t right in Joey’s family but doesn’t know what. There are secrets in everyone’s families.

This is a lovely book. It’s a bit dark and might be too heavy for children on the younger end of the targeted age group, though it is certainly appropriate for older tweens. The writing is superb so it is a perfect book for strong readers in that age range who are moving beyond the simplistic. Naomi has an endearing voice and the author also captures the frightened, rebellious voice of the 13-year-old sister perfectly. Joey is heartbreakingly real.

If you are fortunate enough to have a tween reader in your life at this stage, one who enjoys contemporary novels, Nest is due out September 9.

DISCLAIMER: I received a free review copy from Netgalley. This did not affect my review.

1 comment:

  1. College induced nostalgia! I remember it well. When my daughter went off to school the first year I reread the entire "Harry Potter" and "Little House" books. Thanks for the review. My daughter has now graduated from college, but I do have great nieces coming of age. I'll check it out.