September 23, 2014

Nest - Esther Ehrlich

Nest book cover
Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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. (from Goodreads)

The instant I started Nest, I knew I was in for a treat. Ehrlich may be a debut author, but you certainly wouldn't be able to tell based on how well this tale is written. Ehrlich combines a memorable main character, and some serious (yet very real) issues, and I really liked how she did it.

Chirp, real name Naomi Orenstein, is such a great narrator for Nest. She's got a notable interest in birds and bird-watching, and an adventurous, playful spirit that manifests over and over. She's really smart and optimistic, but she's also got a habit of getting lost in her own thoughts and reacting impulsively. Still, she's a wonderful character to read about, because she simply popped off the page.

Nest starts off on a pretty light note, introducing us to Chirp, her family and her surroundings. It was easy to be lulled into security, particularly considering how well Chirp gets along with other characters and how good her environment is. But, of course, with their mother contracting a serious medical condition, everything is flipped on its head and, just like that, Nest becomes darker than expected. It's fascinating, as always, to see how grief is depicted, particularly when it winds up being contrasted with a peaceful, happy start. 

Though Nest tackles a situation that's a bit more serious than I expected, I applaud Ehrlich's writing and portrayal of grief. I was caught up in Chirp's story until the end, which is definitely a sign that I liked this book. I'd definitely recommend it, though older readers should be wary that it includes some serious issues that younger readers might not understand and may have questions about.


  1. Thank-you for adding the warning about the younger readers. The content in the backhalf of the story was a big problem for me, as this book is catagorized and being promoted, as a Middle Grade. I let the publisher know on Netgalley that Middle Grade age readers are notorious for having family safety anxieties. The ending content was much too heavy for nine to twelve year olds. The publicist sent me an email asking if I wanted to do a spotlight on my book blog. Even though I refused, I was glad I also had the chance to let her know my feelings about the appropriateness of Nest's content. I think this book would be better revised as an Adult fictional memoir.

  2. Okay I'm glad to read your thoughts on the overall tone and audience because it sounds like a Heavy Issue book but it looks middle grade so I wasn't sure where it fell. Mostly, it sounds as if it's a blend of both which is pretty rockstar.


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