Friday, July 8, 2016

The Nest

You might recall that recently I was very excited that I pulled this book from the CBC Summer Reads list:
Book Recommendation, Book Review
The NestCynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
It's been early days here on EtcetorizeReads, and so far I've been lucky enough to share my thoughts on really good books that have rocked my world.  Unfortunately, this book does not fit into that category for me.

Sunnary (via family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems. 

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.

Review (2/5 stars): I found the first half of this book really frustrating. Right up until almost the middle of the book, each chapter is not much more than the introduction of yet another new character. Hardly any action or storyline takes place at all until chapter 14. 

If you can make it to chapter 14 things will start to pick up and some of the characters will seem slightly less unlikeable. I suppose the whole point of that is to show that the family's obsession with 'the nest' makes them all one dimensional. It's not until each of them begins to learn to live life without their safety net that they begin to get to know each other and start learning to act like slightly better versions of themselves and interacting like a real family.

Overall, I'm having a hard time understanding why this book is so highly regarded as some sort of literary masterpiece. It's OK, but it just didn't really hit me as something that was amazingly written.

Some of the characters (ie: the twins) were involved in entire storylines that had little to nothing to do with the main storyline, and were only connected to it by a very thin string., making me wonder why they were included in they way that they were. And the fact that Leo gets away with his selfish behaviour makes me wonder what the author really values, it certainly isn't justice.

It you're looking for a what seems to be a short story that's been stretched as far as possible to make it into a book then you might enjoy this. Otherwise, this is not high on my recommendation list.

All that being said, lots of other people seem to think this book is nothing short of amazing, (including Ellie Kemper whose review appears on back in April-she visualized the book in a very interesting way) so you may want to give it a go.

Ellie Kemper
(The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt)
Have you ever disagreed with the way everyone else feels about a book and wonder what you're missing? What book was it? Leave a comment below~

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