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Review: The Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Book Summary

For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. 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.

Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.


In her exceptional debut, The Nest, Esther Ehrlich, introduces us to an unforgettable heroine that’s childlike innocence graces the pages with its beautiful prose, capturing the heart of the reader. This is one of those special books that’s subtle beauty lies in the story being told. Simplistic and inspiring, we are invited into the home of the Orenstein’s. The heart of the story, seen through the eyes of Naomi, known as Chirp, steals your heart with instantaneous love that makes this one that you don’t want to put down. I will go on a limb and say this is probably one of the best stories to be read this year. Geared towards the young reader, it delicately deals with loss literally & figuratively from the juvenile perspective that is tangible and endearing. 

The richness and depth of the story allow you as the reader to connect and sympathize. The Orenstein’s could be any family you know. Mr. Orenstein, a psychiatrist, loves his family and wants the best for them. Even though it is easier to heal the pain of others, he is put to the test, when it comes to his own. Mrs. Orenstein, a dancer, is the kind of mom you just love. She loves her family and her passion of dance is the essence of her being. Upon noticing a few changes in her health, she is confronted with news that changes her life forever. Rachel, the oldest daughter, is your typical teen, trying to make the transition from kid to almost grown up. Then there is Naomi or as you will get to know as Chirp. She is a lovable character who sees the beauty of the world through the lens of her love for birds. She is the closest to her mom, which ultimately makes her life challenging. It is through this difficult time, she finds an unlikely support system in her neighbor, Joey, whose friendship brings tenderness to the book. He has his own pain but together they find solace and create a safe haven that lead to a bonded friendship.

Without giving too much away, The Nest, is a story of friendship and the love of a family who through their darkest time are determined to find light and strength collectively. Between their love as a family and the friendship of Joey and Chirp, they just pull you in and don’t let go. The sincerity and purity of them are a testament of her writing inspiring character that move and connect you. Overall, I loved everything about this book. This is definitely a book that would be great conversation for all to read and talk about. It bring up issues of mental and physical health, family, peer issues, and loss in a way that could open the dialogue with the young reader to understand and learn from. I would definite recommend not just a read for the young reader but for anyone as well. I would definitely add to your must read list for the year.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (September 9, 2014)

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