Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

The New York Times said this about Nest:

This is a book to take seriously, that has a lot to say. But is it for the child readers it’s targeting?

The greatest strength of “Nest” is Chirp’s clear, strong, believable voice. First-person present tense brings us close to her from the outset, and Ehrlich never hits a false note with this endearing, vulnerable, utterly authentic little girl.

I picked up Nest in a Melbourne book shop last week. Why? I vaguely remembered reading a review, as usual I liked the cover and the review quotes and author endorsements inside the cover sealed the deal. While I am happy I read Nest it is not a book I would place in a Primary school library. It is too sad and too confronting. But it is also powerful, raw and beautifully expressed.

"While it's still just the two of us, just us and no one else, we turn off the downstairs lights. We flick the porch lights on and sit together in the living room on the gold velour couch in the almost-dark and cricket-quiet."

"There's too much I don't know. I don't know why Mom can't just get better at home if we give her lots of peace and quiet and take turns dancing for her and cooking her chicken soup and mashed potatoes and, every once in a while, bringing her an ice cream sundae with hot fudge from Benson's. I don't know when we'll get to visit Mom in the nuthouse."

I completely agree with Ms Yingling who says "I strongly suggest reading this personally before putting it into a school library."  Just as Karen Yingling says, I also found many aspects of this book touched too closely with aspects of my own childhood. I agree this is a book adult readers may enjoy more than younger students - I would give this book to a sensitive reader in Grade 8 or higher which is quite a different audience to the one suggested by the star review from Kirkus.

Here is a review with all the plot details.

I would follow Nest with Scarlet Ibis, Bird by Crystal Chan and The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson. 

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. The Children's Book Review

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