- debut novel by Esther Ehrlich
- 336 pages
- designated grades 5 – 8
The cover of this book comes over as cozy, sweet, and safe, but the story soon rips that notion apart. In her debut novel, Ehrlich takes on some very hard and serious themes. Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein lives with her family near the salt marshes of Cape Cod. The setting is idyllic, but the situation is far from being so. Chirp’s mother is diagnosed with MS, and the family struggles to come to terms with it. The writing is tight and beautiful, layered and insightful. Ehrlich communicates panic and despair but a certain though tenous hope. Friendship and family relationships are believable but fraught with emotion. Rachel, Chirp’s sister, and Joey, her best friend, are masterfully developed. The story is so compelling but very sad. There are no glib answers here, just kids making things more complicated than ever, (and me saying: No!!! Please don’t do that!!) This book is worth reading, but it is rough and therefore not for everyone. If I was a parent, I’d probably read this before recommending it to my child. Literature can be a great way to approach grim topics and talk about them. Also available on audio.
A further review by MS librarian, Akossiwa K is found at: Akossiwa and “Nest” review