Kristen's Reviews > Nest

Nest by Esther Ehrlich
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's review
Dec 17, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2015, fiction, historical-fiction, kids, middle-grade, reviewed

I feel like the past six months or so could have also been dubbed: "When Kristen sobbed through children's books." I have read so many children's books that have made me cry lately. This one belongs to that club. It's a really beautiful, heartbreaking, wonderful book, and while I can't say I enjoyed it all the way through (there was too much crying for that), I can say that I thought it was well done, necessary, and fills some holes in children's literature.

Things this book does really well/holes it fills:

1. A relatable main character. Chirp is not a precious, precocious, smart-beyond-her-years main character. She is not the most special main character. She does not fit many of the tropes of main characters in children's literature. Instead, she feels like a real girl. She has reactions that feel authentic. I love the way her and her sister talk about their feelings--it is so specific to the fact that they have a father who is a therapist.

2. Talking about mental illness. I don't want to get into spoiler-y territory, but this book has a major character who deals with mental illness and I thought it was handled with respect.

3. The main characters are Jewish. I realized while reading this that I couldn't think of much other middle-grade fiction where the main character and his/her family are Jewish. Their faith, and what it is like to live in a community that is mostly Christian (in the 70's!) is a big part of the book.

4. A lovely sibling relationship. I was raised as an only child, and books like this make me so envious of people who have these close, complex sibling relationships. I loved Chirp's relationship with her sister Rachel and how they related to each other. I also thought that Rachel was portrayed pretty perfectly as a 13 year-old.

Really, this book just felt really specific and real. Some of this realness was extremely upsetting. (view spoiler) But I do appreciate that nothing was tied up neatly in a bow. All of the issues in here are issues that some kids actually have to deal with, and unfortunately not all kids have great people in their lives. I felt that while I was unhappy and angry about some aspects of the story, I could respect that Ehrlich wasn't trying to make anything too tidy, or too saccharine.

This is a book that I would have worried about whether or not it had kid appeal, but I know at least one kid loved it, as it was recommended to me by a coworker's daughter, who declared it the best book she'd ever read. If it wins the Newbery, or an honor, I will be happy.
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Reading Progress

December 17, 2014 – Shelved
December 17, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
January 2, 2015 – Started Reading
January 5, 2015 – Finished Reading
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: fiction
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: kids
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: middle-grade
January 6, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

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