Monday, August 25, 2014

ARC Review: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Title: Nest
Author: Esther Ehrlich
Published: September 9, 2014 by Wendy Lamb (Random House)
Amazon Goodreads

Synopsis: 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

*** I recevieved a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest view in return. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I don't tend to read a lot of Middle Grade novels. Not because I don't like them but just because I am looking for something a little more complex. But I received a copy of Nest from the publisher and it sounded like a quick and enjoyable read so I gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really enjoyed. It was so much more complex and poignant than I was expecting.

I think one of the things that made the book so enjoyable for me was the setting. As a self-proclaimed New Englander (I lived in Providence, Rhode Island for six years) I have a special place in my heart for Massachusetts, the people who live in vacation destinations year round, and the Cape. Reading a book about a place that I have a fond affinity for, and miss a lot, made the book incredibly enjoyable. But more than the location of the book, the period of the book was enjoyable for me. Technically this is categorized as Historical Fiction, taking the reader to 1972 and the life of the Orenstein family in that time. But the Brady Bunch, bell bottom, and 70's pop music references were so subtle that it was hard to pinpoint the period, at times it felt downright current. As a fan of Historical Fiction who is picky about my Contemporary it felt like the perfect blend of the two well-suited to anyone exploring one genre or the other.

But what also made this book enjoyable and especially poignant was the writing. Ester Ehrlich's prose is beautifully heart-wrenching. It is hard to believe this a debut. Not only does it have the deep and poetic quality that even some experience authors don't capture but it was incredibly well-plotted and flowed with effortless ease. At times the tone of the book felt reminiscent of some favorite mid-20th Century Modern Classics like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To Kill A Mockingbird, or The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It had a similar coming of age poignancy that affected me on a much deeper emotional level than I expected.

Perhaps I was affected much deeper than I thought because Ehrlich created some truly memorable characters who perfectly capture the feelings of adolescence. The main character Naomi "Chirp" Orenstein was an instantly likable and quirky character. She knows a lot of interesting facts about the birds she has a particular affinity for and would much rather spend her time outside watching said birds. She's a bit anti-social and short-tempered but incredibly optimistic in the face of a lot of difficult circumstances. I could easily relate to her and introverted tendencies and her fixation on something off-beat. She's a realistic and flawed character that I was quickly able to empathize with her and root for her throughout the book.

But Chirp was just the start of the interesting characters in Nest. Joey, who developed into a real friend for Chirp, had a great character arc and was flawed and realistic like most young boys. Chirp's family was also fantastic and the relationship she had with them was so reminiscent of real familial relationships. While reading the book the relationship between Chirp and her mother struck me as so similar to the relationship I have with my own mother that I had to call her to check in and chat. I also loved the relationship with Chirp and her sister Rachel. It's such a perfect sibling relationship where one person is growing up faster than the other, or I should say, before the other. The characters and relationships within the book were so endearing, it made the book even more enjoyable.

My only qualm with the book is part of why I liked it so much. It deals with some pretty heavy concepts. Things are not easy for Chirp and Joey. I expected a heart-breaking story but things took an even darker and depressing turn than even I expected. I talked with some fellow bloggers about how this may be a little too dramatic for a middle grade audience. I don't think this is necessarily true, I mean I remember reading some poignant and depressing books when I was younger and being completely moved by their profound honesty and ability to allow young people to talk about some difficult concepts. To parents, librarians, or teachers who want to give this book to a young person, perhaps read it first and be prepared to talk to them about some of the things that occur in the book.

I give Nest by Esther Ehrlich an 8 out of 10

I recommend this book to fans of poignant and Middle Grade novels such as Bridge to Terabithia or Mid-Century Modern Classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It is a beautifully written novel with likable characters and great relationships that will effect you emotionally.

Have you read Nest? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I am usually not a fan of middle-grade novels but this one looks fab. I really like the premise and the setting! :)

    I will have to check it out since your review is so favourable! :)

    Thanks for sharing! :D

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

    1. Yes, it's definitely worth a read even if you are not a fan of Middle Grade. It's a quick read but it's deep and poignant. Hope you like it if you end up checking it out!