The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I might not have read this book if it had not been on a Kindle that my husband and I share. He said he thought I’d like the story and the characters. I did. The characters were flawed. That’s what I liked about them. If the setting hadn’t been New York City, it would have been a Southern Gothic tale, but I loved the setting. The story wandered around Manhattan and into Brooklyn. I loved that it started in a bar that I visited the last time I was in New York in a hotel next to Grand Central Station. It was familiar and I could smell the streets. If you enjoy NYC, I think you will like this story. If you like lovable, dysfunctional families, I know you will like this story.
The Plumb siblings: Jack, Bea, Melody, and Leo, have substituted money for relationships and they have counted their proverbial chickens before there were feathers. Now, it seems they're looking to their charismatic, bigger than life brother, Leo, to do the right thing. However, Leo has his own problems, and they are significant. His codependents are many and seem to be all over the city. The reader follows Leo as he wrestles with the dilemma of his siblings and his own problems. Chapters alternate between the siblings, a set of twin grandchildren, the matriarch, Francie, and an unrelated widower, struggling with the decisions he made in the aftermath of 911.
Leo wants to do the right thing, but there is no precedent for such a thing in his family. The flashbacks to the Plumb sibs’ childhoods are entertaining and sad. Francie was a piece of work and she threw children’s birthday parties with a martini in her silk robe. It’s entertaining because we want to follow the story to see the train wreck or the redemption. It is a story woven with irony and humor.
Will everyone arrive at the end and get everything they wanted? That’s the lure of The Nest. What we want is almost never what we need and the parallels between the Plumb’s desires and the widower from 911 are brilliant. It’s a modern day parable of be thankful for what you have, cherish the people around you, no matter what their politics or lifestyle, and appearances are deceiving, especially with a Plumb.