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The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
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'The Nest' is an interesting family drama about middle-aged siblings living in New York City in 2016. They are each all utterly derailed when the irresponsibility of their oldest brother, Leo Plumb, Jr., has led to the depletion of a trust fund they all were counting on to rescue them from various other irresponsible acts each has committed on their own. It becomes obvious to readers that the expectation of a fortune has maybe somewhat paused the emotional development of these four adults, who appeared to me to be stuck at an earlier age than their actual ages. One of them IS a bad person, in my opinion, but the others are either flawed by insecurity or unrealistic and selfish ambitions. All of them tend to resort to lying and cheating to varying degrees, as if they were teens sneaking out of parental homes after midnight to party on a school night, instead of adults with professional and family responsibilities.

Francie, as the siblings' elderly mother, is indifferent to her grown children and their lives, especially since she quickly moved on to a second marriage after her first husband died, but she has been careful to abide by her now dead husband's wishes in managing the trust fund. Originally, the trust fund was modest, but the careful management of lawyers and the robust American economy grew the fund so large, each of the intended beneficiaries expected to receive $500,000, and maybe more, when the funds will soon become available. Instead, because of the oldest brother's addictions, he has had a car accident which caused the amputation of a 19-year-old waitress' foot, and his now soon-to-be ex-wife, Victoria, filed for a divorce. Francie decided to pay off both Victoria and Matilda, the waitress, which took most of trust fund money.

Their deceased father, Leonard Plumb, Sr., had established the fund when Melody, the youngest daughter, was 16 years old. When Melody turns 40 in a few weeks, each of the children - Leo, Jack, Bea, Melody - will finally get their share of 'The Nest', their nickname for the trust fund. Each will now receive $50,000 instead of $500,000.

For individual reasons, two of the siblings are desperate for money, as some of them have debts equal to the amount they were originally expecting to receive. Melody, a married stay-at-home mom of teenage twin girls, has spent a lot of money on tutoring for her daughters, trying to get them ready to apply at elite colleges, and hiding the credit cards statements from her husband Walter, a computer technician. She also has been spending money turning her expensive home into a showcase. Jack, an antique store owner, who married Walker, a lawyer, has been secretly borrowing money to keep his business open, using his husband's Walker's beach house as collateral for his loans without telling Walker.

Leo is the kind of fellow who is charismatic and charming. He has always stolen all of the air from every room he enters and he has always taken the credit for everybody else's work. He is a natural leader, but he also has a fatal attraction to drugs and alcohol. Despite his Achilles' heel, he is a good literary editor and he enjoys circulating among the chattering classes of the literati. He is still respected even after his car accident and rehab, but he has learned many of his former friends are leery of hiring him. He has begun to realize he might have to get an ordinary job. No. It is too horrible to contemplate. There is also the matter of his brother and sisters hounding him to pay them back from the depletion of 'The Nest', and generally lead them out of their self-created messes.

His sister Bea, a writer who never lived up to her potential, is annoying Leo in addition by bugging him to help her edit her second book. She had written a critically acclaimed novel ten years ago, and then she apparently lost any will to write another. Instead, she settled in at a minor literary publication as an editor, after a long love affair with her college teacher, a married man twenty years older then her. She still dresses as if she were a fey college student although she is approaching 50, and she is relying on Leo to guide her with inspiration and to completion of her book, as she always has. The other two siblings, Melody and Jack, are simply hoping Leo will find a way to save them by coming up with money to replace what Francie had to give to Victoria and Matilda on Leo's behalf from the trust fund. The idea of telling the truth to Walter and Walker how the two loyal husbands have been robbed and betrayed by their respective Plumb spouses is too daunting for them to face.

Leo actually could fix things if he wanted. The question is, does he want to? Like two of his siblings, he has always satisfied his own needs, only without caring much if there was collateral damage. Can he change? Can any of them change? Gentle reader, I am not telling.

This novel is a 'small movie', not a Hollywood blockbuster. I liked it, but it was foreign territory to me, a childless blue-collar urban dweller with only one brother. The book is either an entertaining but-not-quite-a-soap-opera of a delayed coming-of-age of related and urban educated middle-class adults, or maybe just a close look at adults facing a middle-age crisis brought to the surface by financial difficulties. I can't decide.
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Reading Progress

May 15, 2017 – Started Reading
May 15, 2017 – Shelved
May 15, 2017 –
page 130
May 17, 2017 – Shelved as: edgy-but-still-a-cozy
May 17, 2017 – Shelved as: friendships-and-family-life
May 17, 2017 – Shelved as: safe-for-work
May 17, 2017 – Finished Reading

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