Friday 19 June 2015

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

I should have taken the shortcut home from my bird-watching spot at the salt marsh, because then I wouldn't have to walk past Joey Morell, whipping rocks against the telephone pole in front of his house as the sun goes down. I try to sneak around him, pushing so hard against the scrub oaks on our side of the road that the branches, scratch my bare legs, but he sees me. 

Published in July by Rock The Boat, an imprint from One World Publications. 
Pages - 326
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.
Chirp is one of the most endearing  characters I've come across in a long time. She jumps right into your arms from the very first page and hugs you tightly until you have to unwillingly, let  her go at the end of the book. Her voice is so authentic, you find yourself caught up in her long and breathless sentences, as she desperately tries to tell you everything at once.  The book is peppered with bird references from Chirp's extensive knowledge, which only adds to her wonderful character. If this had been made into a film a few years ago, Dakota Fanning would have won the role hands down. 

This book filled me with different emotions. The story has a strong New England feel to it, making my inner travel bug, eager to visit places like Cape Cod and Boston.  The seventies are brought vividly back to life, making me long for  those hazy endless summer days of childhood. The musical references throughout the book sent me straight to Google and Youtube, just so that I could hear the songs again.

The book is beautifully written and the language is so descriptive that you don't even realise it, you just absorb the whole setting, recreating it in your mind. 

This isn't an easy book to read. Chirp has a lot to deal with. More than any eleven year old should ever have to cope with. And at times she is angry and you can't blame her at all for her reactions. 

This book is more than just Chirp's story. A much bigger picture can be viewed, giving you a real sense of how one illness can affect the whole family. Often children are the forgotten ones when a parent is seriously ill. Adults feel they are protecting them, by giving them limited information about the situation, when often this just makes things worse.  Children will search for answers elsewhere and often get the wrong idea. Surely it is better to tell the child the truth from the beginning, rather than allow their imaginations to make it worse.

This really is a stunning debut and ideal for any child dealing with bereavement.

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