Sunday, January 14, 2018

Review: The Nest

The Nest
by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Why did you choose this book? This was a book club selection that several of us had on our ‘to read’ list
When did you read this book? January 2018
Who should read this book? Readers who enjoy books on dysfunctional families and books that make you think.
Source: library ebook
My Rating:  4 Stars
Bookclub Rating: ½ 3½  Stars

Here is a synopsis of The Nest from Goodreads

A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the future they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

My Review

I added this one to my TBR list shortly after it was released, but never found time to read it. This fall when our book club sat down to make a list of books we are interested in reading for our 2018 meetings, we realized that at least three of us had The Nest on our lists, so it was an easy decision to make it our January suggestion.

I really enjoyed this book! I don’t feel like the synopsis did the book justice, as I don’t think there was as much animosity among the siblings as the synopsis hints at. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to see the small kindnesses and acts of caring the siblings displayed to one another.

I liked almost all of the characters; even Leo, who was pretty messed up. He WAS charming and for the first half of the book that worked for me. I really did not like brother Jack much at all at the beginning, but as the story developed, I grew to like him very much. The one character I really disliked was the mother of the clan, Francie. In short, she was not a good mother at all!  I wish we could have seen a peek at the future relationship she had, if any, with her children at the end of the book.

There were a lot of characters in this story and a lot of storylines. At one point near the middle of the book, I felt like there was too much going on to follow. However, I’m happy to say that everything tied together well, and most everything that happened was important to the story. The possible exception was the storyline with Melody’s twins. It was mildly interesting and did tie in to an extent, but I think it could have been left out without missing much, and the story would have flowed a little better with not so much going on.

One thing I appreciated is that the author included an epilogue, as well as referred to future events frequently in the narrative. There were a couple of storylines that I wish would have ended differently, particularly the storyline for Leo, and that for Jack and his husband. I do feel that I know how each person’s story played out and there aren’t a lot of questions left unanswered.

With so much going on, this is a great selection for book clubs. There is plenty to discuss with all the bad decisions made by the various characters. My book club discussed it this past weekend and our discussion lasted longer than normal. Some points of discussion were Leo’s decision at the end of the story and the implications of his presence in the epilogue, communication issues, and whether the family dynamics in this story are unique to families with money. In addition to making a great book club selection, this book would also make a great television mini-series or soap opera.

You can visit the author’s website to learn more about the author and view a discussion guide.

My rating - 4 Stars and
Book club rating - 3½ Stars; individual ratings ranged from 2½ to 4.

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  1. Sounds like your book group kicked off the year with a great discussion! I remember when this book came out I was initially attracted to the cover. I do enjoy a good family drama so this one is on my list. Great review!

  2. I really like stories about interesting family dynamics, so it's been on my to-read list about since it was released too. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it :)