I love using Netgalley. Sometimes I find little treasures to read that I might not otherwise know is there.
Today’s review is an example of one of these treasures…I cannot express my love for this book enough. And don't be fooled by that cover. You will need tissues as you get deeper into the story, especially when that title finally ties in to the plot. You have been warned.
Author: Esther Ehrlich
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Available: September 9
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
The summary says that this book will stay with you, and I can confirm that this is true with me.
The story is simple enough—and yet there is nothing simple about Chirp. She is a complex character; one who looks forward to sharing her love of dance with her mom and who loves learning about birds. But Chirp’s life takes a detour when her mother becomes sick, and readers take the journey with Chirp as she tries to cope with growing up, and her mother’s illness.
Ehrlich delivers a heart-wrenching story that had me turning the page. I read this book in two sittings in one day. I wanted to see where she was going to take me—where she was going to take Chirp and her family. I was not disappointed.
The writing in this novel is complex yet approachable for readers of many levels. While the audience is a middle reader, I feel that advanced younger readers will devour the words off the page.
The pacing of this novel makes it a page-turner. Readers live in Chirp’s world through Chirp’s point-of-view. I think this is what makes the novel an even stronger read. It allows our hearts to ache with her; our giggles to escape as she makes silly comments; our hearts thump as she describes leaping through the air. This does not have the “feel” of a novel but of a personal diary, and for me that helps sale this story.
But this story does not belong to Chirp alone. There is her father, her mother, her sister, her friend, her teacher, and her principal. These characters help round out the cast of the storytelling.
· Chirp’s father is a psychiatrist, and at times I found him comical because I could see the influence of the time in the way he approached his parenting.
· Chirp has learned to love dance through her mother, and while she watches her mother struggle with illness, Chirp never gives up on her or her recovery. It is heart-warming to see a child root so deeply for a parent.
· Rachel, Chirp’s sister, is a typical teen of the time. She is trying to find her own independence while picking up slack at home.
· Joey, at first I didn’t know what to think of him, but by novel’s end, I wanted to grab him and give him the biggest hug ever. This kid needs an adult in his corner.
· The teacher and the principal, nice contrasts of one another—they provide the school environment that Chirp experiences. And while Chirp is trying to be the right student and make the right calls, with things falling apart at home, she really just needs an adult at the school on her team.
I love the characters, I love the plot, I love this book.
I feel like I can’t write much more than that without spoiling a few key elements to the story. I will say that you need this book in your life.
Do I recommend this book?
Enthusiastically! I think all readers of realistic fiction will enjoy this novel. I will not be surprised to see this on summer reading lists for the 2015/2016 school year.
Let’s talk about books—what’s your favorite middle grade realistic fiction novel? Share below so I can build my TBR pile even higher.
- The Hodgenator