Monday, August 11, 2014
Nest, by Esther Ehrlich
This is Chirp's (Naomi's) story. Well, her family's story really. Her mom is a dancer who has suddenly started to have some problems with her body. Her leg is dragging around and has been hurting her for a while, but Chirp's somewhat clinical and distant psychiatrist dad isn't really talking about it. Big sister Rachel is distancing herself as well as she tries on teendom for the first time.
When Chirp's mom is diagnosed with MS the family verily falls apart. Hannah's existence has always been that of a dancer, and she quickly falls into a deep depression and nobody in the family really knows how to cope. Chirp finds an ally in a very unexpected person - Joey Morell.
Joey's family is one that Chirp's family looks down on. They have a 3 sons who run amok, but their problems go deeper than that. Chirp and Joey find common ground, and as two kids who ultimately are scared and feeling abandoned, they cement their friendship as they slowly reveal the pain inside each of their houses.
I don't want to spoil the plot so I will leave it there, but will also say that Ehrlich is part poet and part magician as she weaves this tale together. "Ice-blue quiet smacks me when I open the front door after school." (p. 86) "A little square of my blouse is stuck to my upper arm, like the wrinkly paper on a temporary tattoo before you lift it off and leave a splotchy red heart or yellow smiley face behind." (p. 164) "The air's already thick and warm, even though the sun's still just a spritz of light in the pitch pines and the scrub oaks and not a hot, round ball bouncing on the top of my head, like it will be soon." (p. 12) Swoon.
For sure, this is a story filled with heavy and heady stuff. But it is through the eyes of Chirp, so while it is indeed sad, it is never too much. It is gorgeous, quiet and filled with hope. I fell in love with Chirp and Joey as I read. They simply became real, and I turned the pages late into the night because I could not leave their story unfinished.