Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review: The Nest

Summary: 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 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. 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, Cynthia D'Aprix 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. -- Ecco

THE NEST by Cynthia D'Prix Sweeney came out yesterday and I honestly think it's one of the most-buzzed about books this year. The reviews have been pretty fantastic and there are blurbs from some pretty influential people including Amy Poehler and Elizabeth Gilbert. My go-to place for book recommendations, Entertainment Weekly, also featured it in this week's issue. Needless to say, I needed to see for myself what all the fuss was about!

I have to say that all of the pre-pub hype was true. I adored THE NEST. It's a fun read with some pretty terrific characters; and for those of you like me who enjoy books about dysfunctional families, it's a definite must-read. The story is entertaining but it's the insight into family dynamics that makes it so special.

THE NEST is about the Plumb family -- specially four adult siblings who are supposed to receive their inheritance or "the nest" as they refer to it when the youngest, Melody, turns forty. Upon learning that "the nest" is just about gone, she, her sister Bea and brother Jack set up a meeting to confront their brother Leo who has been recently released from rehab. Leo entered rehab after he was responsible for a horrible car accident that seriously injured a nineteen year old waitress who was his passenger. Do I even need to tell you where "the nest" went?

All four of the Plumb children are facing major issues (albeit brought upon their own selves). Melody needs to money to pay for her house and twin daughters' college educations. Meanwhile, her brother Jack who is an antiques dealer has overextended his finances and he's been keeping everything a secret from his husband Walker. Bea, a once successful author, isn't nearly as desperate for money as her brother and sister, but she's frustrated that she can no longer write anything of substance. And Leo... well Leo is a plain mess. He's fresh out of rehab with no job, a pending divorce, and a hefty settlement after the accident.

The charismatic Leo convinces his siblings that he will have their money -- he just needs time. They all believe that Leo will be their salvation despite his slick ways. Melody, Bea, and Jack are forced to face that they might never get the money they are due and that they might have to tell their loved ones the truth.

I loved THE NEST. It's smart and funny and extremely insightful; and I fear that my summary is way too simple because this book is complex! It's hard to believe that it's Ms. Sweeney's debut novel. The writing and character development are fantastic, but what I loved the most was the social commentary on families, relationships, and expectations.

I am a sucker for books about crazy families, and I have to say the Plumb siblings are crazy with a capital C. They all have secrets and are selfish in their own way; and frankly, they are all a bit of a mess. I absolutely adored how Ms. Sweeney portrayed each of them and especially the relationships between them. There are countless funny encounters that will leave you laughing and shaking your head at the same time. In addition, I loved how she portrayed the other relationships in their lives with their spouses, lovers, friends, co-workers, and children!

Another terrific thing about THE NEST was the way the author brought New York City to life. It was a great setting for this novel and really became another character in the story. I loved her descriptions of the city and even some of the restaurants and neighborhoods; and they definitely added to my appreciation of the story.

Finally, I enjoyed that THE NEST made me think... and feel. And isn't that a testament to a great novel? I think THE NEST would make wonderful book club selection because who doesn't like to talk about dysfunctional families and relationships? The characters and their actions are complex and certain to provide some fodder for discussion. Plus so many of the themes in the book are universal. Some of the things might want to explore include family dynamics, sibling rivalry, marriage, trust, secrets, betrayal, forgiveness, relationships, ambitions, expectations, and money!

Overall, THE NEST will probably go down as one of my favorite reads of 2016. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Yes, this book is getting TONS of buzz. I'm glad to see it's well deserved. The Plumbs sound like the type of family I love to read about.

Kate Unger said...

I'm beginning to think you only read book club type books. ;) But seriously, this book sounds really good. I love dysfunctional family stories. I can't believe I forgot to mention that in my recent post about auto-read words/topics. I'm adding this to my list right now. Great review.

Karlie said...

This sounds like a great read!

Carole said...

Hi Julie, looks like a fab book! It would be great if you added your review to the Books You Loved: April collection over at Carole's Chatter. Cheers