Title: Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children’s
Genre: Historical (70s), Children’s Fiction/Young Adult
Age Level: 10 & Up
Length: 338 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
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.
Esther Ehrlich’s 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.
Nest by Esther Ehrlich is an incredibly heartwarming and poignant novel that will make readers laugh and cry as they follow Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein’s journey in the months following her mother’s devastating diagnosis of a very debilitating disease. Written for children ages 10 and up, this beautifully written novel will appeal to readers of all ages.
Eleven year old Chirp enjoys a very idyllic life on Cape Cod where she loves watching wild birds. She is very close to her older sister Rachel, and she also has a pretty good relationship with her parents. Her father is a psychiatrist whose well-meaning therapeutic approach to parenting works well with Rachel, but not so much with Chirp. Her mother is a dancer who has passed her love of dance on to Chirp and they have a close, loving relationship. Chirp’s happy life slowly begins to unravel in the wake of her mother’s unexpected health crisis and her downward spiral after receiving a life-changing diagnosis.
Chirp is a spunky pre-teen with a mostly happy home life. Her relationship with Rachel is fun but with their mother’s diagnosis and Rachel’s transition into junior high, a distance begins to grow between the sisters. As their mother’s physical and mental health further deteriorates, Rachel turns away from her family while Chirp finds solace in her budding friendship with her classmate and next door neighbor Joey Morell. Despite the many changes at home, Chirp remains upbeat and positive in the face of adversity until a tragedy deals a stunning blow. Unable to deal with this traumatic event, Chirp and Joey make an impetus decision that unexpectedly helps her begin the healing process.
Nest is both a simple and complex novel of family and friendship. It begins as a lighthearted story about a close knit and loving family that is faced with a crisis that eventually changes the dynamics of all of the various relationships. Esther Ehrlich touches on several serious issues with sensitivity and in simple enough terms that younger readers will have no difficulty understanding. This emotional novel is compelling and heartfelt and it remains mostly upbeat and positive despite some of the more serious undertones. Highly recommended for readers of all ages.