Review: Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Nest by Esther Erlich

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.

Title: Nest
Author: Esther Ehrlich
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Publication date: September 9, 2014

I received Nest from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Nest is very well-written and realistic. Chirp feels a little younger than 11, but that might be the difference between 1972 and 2014.

Chirp is living an idyllic life in 1972 Cape Cod when her mom starts having problems with her leg. It takes a little while to get a diagnosis, but when she does, it isn’t good. Her mom, a dancer, has always been active and now she can’t even walk without pain. I was a little surprised how quickly things got so bad, but later in the book I noticed huge chunks of time being skipped (It’s Thanksgiving! Now it’s almost March!), so maybe it was happening at the beginning too and I just didn’t realize it.

Chirp is dealing with a lot of tough issues, but there are also fun moments when she’s just a kid: when she gets in trouble at school and tries to figure out a way to tie up the phone all evening so the principal won’t be able to reach her dad; her and Rachel’s excitement over staying in a hotel, something that seems like it was less common among even those families with some means (dad’s a “head shrinker”) in the early 1970s; a field trip with her class .

Chirp and Rachel have a very realistic sibling relationship, trying to hold it together during their mom’s diagnosis and while she’s away for a long-term hospital stay, but also trying to live their middle school lives. Rachel at 13 wants to go to a Halloween party instead of trick-or-treating with Chirp and she likes a boy at school. She’s growing up a little faster than Chirp. That’s to be expected, but it’s a bad time for it with everything going on at home.

Chirp’s friend Joey is probably my favorite character in the book. They aren’t really even friends at the beginning. They’re neighbors, but Joey and his older brothers are a little rough for Chirp and she’s learned to keep her distance. Joey has problems at home, too, but he turns out to be Chirp’s strongest supporter. He seems to know exactly what she needs, and if he doesn’t, he’s willing to go along with her and make sure she’s okay.

And then there’s this:

“Someday I’m going to kiss you,” I say, before I even realize it.

“Someday I’m going to let you,” Joey says.

I feel like I’m rating Nest lower than it deserves, but it’s more of a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing — and I mean that sincerely. It’s a darker book than I like, especially when I’m reading middle grade, and while I like Chirp, I have trouble relating to her. I think it’s because I haven’t experienced what she does. Some things you can imagine and some things you can’t — or don’t want to.

3 1/2 stars



  1. This one sounds good, but a difficult read…especially for the age group! Thanks for the review.
    Kim@Time2Read recently posted…Review: Five Days LeftMy Profile

  2. This looks incredibly deep and a little dark for middle grade. I have never read a book like this before so I will definitely keep my eye out for it.

    It looks quite a beautiful read! 🙂

    thanks for sharing & great review! 🙂 xxx

    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries
    Alex 🙂 recently posted…Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Covenant #1)My Profile