Nest by Esther Ehrlich

 (Thank you @randomhousekids)

Publisher's Synopsis: "A heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. 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.
   Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you."

My two cents: I am not certain what else to say about Nest. Everyone loves it; there are glowing reviews all over the internet. The atmospheric prose is lovely and well-written, and means the title was probably lingering on Newbery award lips this past season. 

But, I also thought it was awfully heavy for a general read. I was especially concerned for the protagonist's friend who appears to be suffering from child abuse. The fact that his story is never developed doesn't end my concern. It is certainly a title to give to students who are having difficult family issues with death, suicide and mental illness of family members, but handing this one over to just any middle grade reader is tricky. The publisher lists 10 and up and I would certainly stay true to that designation as 10 seems awfully young to bear the worries of child abuse, suicide, and mental illness. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 10+  /  Lexile 830L
Pages: 337
Themes: Family, Depression/Mental Illness, Suicide, Friendship, Nature
Plot Engagement: Meandering, not a fast adventure type
Originality: More topical than original
Believability: Sadly so
Thank You: NetGalley
Publisher:  Random House Kids
Date: Sept 2014
ISBN 978-0385386074
Click here to buy: Nest
Read the first chapter here:

New York Times review: HERE
Author website: HERE

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