The Nest: Book Review by Dinh.
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 Plumb’s joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are but months away from finally receiving. Meant by their now deceased father to be a modest midlife supplement, The Nest’s value has unexpectedly soared along with the stock market, and the Plumb siblings 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 two looming college tuitions for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband. 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 futures 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.
Synopsis from hardcover version, 353 pages, copyright 2016 and published by Harper Collins.
The Nest is a great debut novel for Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney!
When I started reading the book jacket I was intrigue with the whole idea of The Nest and how the siblings were depending on the money to solve their financial problems.
What started off as a good premise took some time to hook me in.
Initially, I found the characters selfish and shallow but by a third of the book it got interesting as we get to know each of the characters and their problems.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read.
Here’s what I liked about it!
Style of Writing
D’Aprix Sweeney’s writing style is a pleasure to read. The lightness of the words and flowing story line created a balanced well paced novel.
The novel was also logically laid out in its presentation so it was very clear.
I enjoyed the premise of the story line. Having a nest to fall back on can create a false sense of security and when things don’t go as planned, the family dynamic changes.
I liked how the different people in the Plumbs family have their story explained and why they are in a mess that they are in.
The novel is cleverly crafted in its realistic view of the family dynamic. The siblings are estranged from each other, some more than others and this dynamic changes as a result of Leo’s car accident.
Family members are let down, but what unfolds is the building of those relationships again. As in any family, these ties can be strong or weak.
I liked the ending of the book. I liked that I wasn’t expecting that sort of ending and it happened that way.
I like that Leo is just out of the picture. He goes away and even though the siblings try to find him, they give up and carry on with their lives.
I enjoyed the ambiguity of Leo’s rest of his life. We don’t really know when he comes back into his siblings life again (this is just mentioned in a line in the epilogue).
This is a realistic ending and it works because this is what you’d expect with a family dynamic that is so dysfunctional in the first place.
I appreciated the epilogue as well, as it gave a nice summary of what happened after a year Leo’s disappearance. Life goes on…
Here’s What I Didn’t Like!
The Plumb siblings play a prominent role in the book, and I didn’t really like any of them. I couldn’t connect to any of them since they were all selfish, and not really likable.
In fact, I loved the supporting cast more than the main characters.
I did like that D’Aprix Sweeney did a good job of voicing each character in the story without focusing on one particular character too much.
I liked that it was spread among the siblings and also the supporting characters as well.
Whilst I had no vested interested in anyone in particular, and there was no one character that I felt connected to, I really enjoy the story of Matilda, the waitress (and the accident), and Tommy and the missing artifact from 9/11.
Leo is selfish, charismatic, and the eldest brother that everyone looked up to. It’s interesting how Jack, Melody and Bea’s perspectives of Leo changed after the accident.
Melody’s character was the least developed and she was painted with hardly any interesting traits.
Jack the gay brother who is an antiques dealer has no clue on how to resolve his financial crisis. Still immature compared to his husband.
Bea is still trying to write her next novel but has had writer’s block for a while and can’t seem to get back on track. Bea’s story was interesting but we didn’t get enough in depth on her or any of the siblings.
My Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading The Nest. What worked really well was the story line and the pace of novel once it got moving after the initial chapters.
Though I couldn’t relate to the characters, the writing was done superbly which helped carried me to the end of the book.
I would recommend this book to someone who is interested in reading about dysfunctional families.