Friday, June 03, 2016
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
I'm sure you've heard about The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney if you haven't already read it. There are a gazillion cover images online and that usually means the book buzz worked. Clearly it worked on me. I was curious what it was about The Nest that merited the huge advance and the heavy publicity but it didn't sound like my typical book choice, so I put a hold on it at my local library.
You probably also know what The Nest is about but I'm going to tell you, anyway, and there will probably be spoilers. The short version: The story of a dysfunctional family in which the siblings have all relied upon a monetary fund that was to be distributed amongst them, now drained due to a disastrous accident.
***WARNING***SPOILERS***WARNING***PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK***
The Nest is multi-faceted but rests mainly upon the draining of the family's fund. Leo, Jack, Bea, and Melody don't really have much to do with each other; their father is dead and Mom was always a bit flighty and inattentive. Before he died, Dear Old Dad set up a fund (a "nest egg" of sorts, hence "the Nest"). It was meant to only be a token amount to be divided amongst the 4 siblings upon the 40th birthday of the youngest, Melody. However, it grew and grew, thanks to a decent market and wise investments. And, even though their father didn't want it to be something they would come to rely upon, they've all gotten into a wee bit of trouble due to the anticipation.
Leo has made a lot of money and he's blown a lot, as well. He hasn't worked since he sold his company for a small fortune. He's weak of character, a drug addict, and a bit of a sleaze when it comes to women. It's his fault the Nest has been drained.
Now, on the cusp of Melody's birthday, the other siblings have learned that 90% of the Nest is gone. Melody was counting on the funds to help pay off the house that was overvalued when they purchased it and to fund her twin daughters' college educations. She thinks her husband doesn't know about her reliance on the money; but, Walt has always told her not to rely upon the Nest, convinced that her family was way too flaky to come through.
Jack has a business that is not profitable and . . . hmm, I think he's gotten a reverse mortgage? I can't recall what exactly Jack has done but he's siphoned money off the second home he and his partner, Walker, own, and then covered it up with lies.
Bea still grieves the love of her life, who died three years ago. She's a writer but she got a sizable advance for two books, many years ago, and has only managed to finish one. Her publicist has rejected Bea's latest attempt.
Leo is a greedy, self-centered jerk who doesn't feel all that bad about the disaster that used up the Nest. He's decided he'll try to make another fortune and then divide it. But, he hasn't worked in so long, where will he even begin to find the money?
There are plenty of details that I won't share. Will Leo come through with the funds and divide them amongst his siblings or will he choose to take care of himself? When he moves in with Bea's publicist, Stephanie, will he be able to maintain the relationship or ruin it, as he has in the past? Bea feels like an absolute failure and she will need to pay back half of her book advance. When she begins to write, again, will it be worthy of publication or will she continue to trudge on, humiliated and just a bit lonely? If Leo doesn't save the day, what will happen to Melody's family? Will they be able to keep the house and send the girls to school? What will happen when Walker finds out about Jack's deception?
There are a lot of other plot threads involving the twins, Stephanie (my favorite character), and the people Leo used to work with before he sold his company. Suffice it to say, The Nest sucks you in and doesn't let go.
I loved the way the book ended because (highlight if you want the ending completely and irredeemably spoiled):
Only Leo is unhappy and it's because he chose greed over doing the right thing. The other siblings manage to each find their own solutions to the trouble they've caused and become closer in the process. I liked the clear sense that money corrupts and you're better off finding your own way in life than relying upon an inheritance, even if it's a struggle to do so. Maybe that's a bit on the cliché side, but it felt perfect to me.
Highly recommended - A compelling plot with a number of interesting subplots and well-developed characters. At it's heart, The Nest is about a group of people who aren't necessarily likeable but they are realistic, particularly in the way they justify their debt or greed to themselves. I think we all lie to ourselves a little, in that way.
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