Author: Esther Ehrlich
Genre: Children’s Fiction – Middle Grade
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books/Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Format: egalley via Netgalley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My review (published at Read, Run, Ramble):
Thank you Wendy Lamb Books via Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this book!
Nest, the debut novel by Esther Ehrlich, is a moving, sweet, and pivotal book. Written for middle-grade children, Nest, explores family dynamics – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ehrlich writes her two main characters, Chirp and Joey, with brilliant authenticity. Chirp is a bird-loving 11-year-old and Joey is her rough and tough classmate who also happens to live right across the street from her. The two are headed toward a journey that neither expects, but one that will bring out their fears in full, living color.
Chirp loves birds; they are her hobby. But above interest in and knowledge of birds, birds are her coping mechanism. She finds solace in identifying with the different species she’s come to know about. She finds strength in sharing her knowledge with others. She finds comfort in some of her own nests.
Joey copes differently. Joey presents as the no-good, tough guy (much like his brothers), but he’s seen throughout the novel always caring for Chirp in his own way. His battles manifest themselves in an overreaching obsession with germs and the harm they can do. Joey struggles as much as he supports in this novel and he and Chirp become, without really thinking about it, each other’s shelter.
Ehrlich writes beautifully, both for adults and children, in a perfect balance between simplicity and richness. Readers of all ages and interests will find it an easy, thoughtful, and interesting read. For the middle-grade readers, it is a great show that we all have our battles, both large and small. Those battles can bring us together or tear us apart, and that is mostly thanks to how we choose to look at a situation or a person. Ehrlich shows her middle-grade readers that things aren’t always what they seem on the outside. To adult readers, Ehrlich illustrates the intensity with which children process things early in life, whether the events are good or bad. Through Chirp and Joey, readers will see that memories or perceptions and reality can be quite different through their eyes.
Friendship and family are explored in depth – how much they mean, how much they can change a person, how much they can hurt, and how much they can heal.
There is a happy balance of life sucks and we can get through this within the book. Ehrlich never insinuates that tragedy is easily overcome, for adults or children, but also shows the redeeming power of love, friendship, and selfless support.
I’m going to get a copy of this book for my 11-year-old daughter and I hope (and suspect) that she’ll love it as much as I did. I also plan to buy a copy for her teacher/classroom (last year’s choice was The One and Only Ivan and I feel as strongly about this book as I did about that one). It was that good and meaningful to me!
I was provided with an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.