By Esther Ehrlich
Hardcover: 336 pages
Age Range: 10 and up
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (September 2014)
What to Expect: Ornithology, Nature, Cape Cod, Depression, Family illness, Suicide, Friendships, Multiple Sclerosis, Family Relationships, Mental Illness
Esther Ehrlich’s debut novel, Nest, is an arresting story of an eleven-year-old girl named Chirp Orenstein, whose life becomes acutely sharp and complicated as her mother’s illness overtakes the family. Chirp and her older sister Rachel are forced to adjust to the realities of not only an adoring and adorned mother who is physically ill, but one that develops mental illness as well. These realities are grueling for the sisters to absorb, even with a father who is a psychiatrist. Ehrlich shares the complex journey of this once carefree family through a beautiful, and at times, heartbreaking narrative by an unforgettably passionate protagonist.
For Chirp, absorbing the lush natural habitat of Cape Cod is more than a hobby, it’s a crucial thread in the fabric of her well-being. She gleans significant joy and comfort from bird watching, hence the nickname “Chirp,” and the remainder of her joy comes from her family. She lives a whimsical life, surrounded by nature, music, dancing, and laughter. When her mother becomes ill, Chirp’s whimsical world comes crashing down; everything that used to bring Chirp joy becomes a painful reminder of her mother’s condition. She befriends an unlikely character on her street named Joey, who also seems to have a dysfunctional family life. Chirp’s life continues to be thorny until she and Joey decide to run away and she comes to the realization that though her family is not what it used to be, the love still exists.
The Orenstein family’s journey is complicated, with intense moments of sadness and helplessness that are overpowering. Ehrlich’s lyrical writing style flawlessly captures the myriad of emotions an eleven-year-old experiences as her innocence is compromised by her mother’s illness. Nest is an honest and raw account about a family’s love, a family’s tragedy, and a family’s healing. And though Nest is narrated in eleven-year-old Chirp’s point of view, the gravity of this family’s experiences would be best suited for readers at the higher end of the recommended age spectrum.
Add this book to your collection: Nest, by Esther Ehrlich
About the Author
Esther Ehrlich was born and raised in Boston and spent childhood summers on Cape Cod. She graduated from Vassar College. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Nest is her first novel.
Nest, by Esther Ehrlich, was reviewed by Gi Hallmark. Follow along with our articles and reviews tagged with Bird Books and Family Relationship Books to discover more great kids books just like this one.