By Dawn M.
When I first read the title, The Nest, what first occurred to me was the native genius of weaver birds. Naturally, these birds build more eloquent and solid nests without a trace of experience in making them. A weaver bird has an intricate pattern of collecting long strips of fresh leaves and forming the entrance by tying each fiber with its foot while taking the other end in its beak before proceeding on building the walls. While the nest serves as shelter and protection, it is also used by the male birds to woo the females. How romantic, right? But this novel is not even about birds. Or the nest they make.
Meet the Plumb family. Leonard Plumb Sr., now deceased, was a self-made man. With all his effort and commitment, he was able to turn his small business to a thriving corporation. Since then, he decided to establish a trust fund for his children—hence The Nest. But the said inheritance would not be available until Melody, the youngest, turned forty. The other children thought it wasn’t fair since they have to wait longer and they would be old before they received it. Or so they thought.
In a cold afternoon in New York, Bea, Melody, and Jack Plumb gather in the Grand Central’s Oyster Bar, not for a happy get-together, but to confront their eldest brother, Leo. A few months away before finally receiving the inheritance, Leo got behind the wheel of an SUV with a 19-year-old waitress and got her severely injured. Because of the accident, the money was lent whole to him. Leo has always been the charismatic one. He can get away from every mess he makes. But maybe not this time. He has to find ways to pay them back which is not very easy to do since it’s a huge amount of money and everyone has been counting on it like how featherless chicks need the warmth of the nests to cushion them from cold.
The story unfolds not only in one perspective but in multiple points of view. It zooms in on the life of each character that makes it seem possible to understand them, perhaps like them. Jack Plumb, also called Leo Lite, is secretly married to his partner and not even his family knows about it. Wanting a good future, he gets into a shady deal involving a stolen work of art. Bea, a widow and a previous writer, has never written a story that’s worth publishing and that risks her apartment. And then there’s Melody who is obsessed with stalking her twins through an app called Stalkerville, and has depended their lives on the money she expects. But the story is way more than the inheritance and the financial woe; it is also about how relationships and memories can be misshapen by decisions, how easy it is for people to wound those who they loved the most. It is warm and funny in some ways but the small things can prick your heart.
Now it has come to me that the native genius of the weaver birds is not on how they perfectly construct their nests, it is on the purpose. When the chicks learn to fly and move away, the little basket remains sturdy but now empty. The Nest for the Plumb family may have shaped their future, but the toll of the accident is what makes them finally acknowledge their fates and stand on their own.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney masterfully weaves together the lives of this dysfunctional family and the people close to them.
The Nest is available at Fully Booked Online.
Dawn loves messy hair and listening to indie music.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]