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*Nest* by Esther Ehrlich - middle grades book review
by Esther Ehrlich
Grades 5+ 336 pages Yearling February 2016 Paperback    

The year is 1972, and the story is eleven-year-old Naomiís. Naomi lives on Cape Cod with her older sister, Rachel, her psychiatrist father, and her mother, who dances like the spring flowers in the wind.

Naomiís greatest interest lies with the wild birds of Cape Cod. She spends her time studying their nesting habits, feeding habits, and their voices. She also loves to watch her mother dance. She and Rachel try to emulate their mother, which only makes her laugh. Naomi loves to hear her mother laugh. When symptoms of a life-changing disease appear in her mother, Naomiís world begins to change. She will learn from her wild bird friends about nesting.

Joey is an eleven-year-old who has never known the love of a parent, even though he lives with his father and mother and two older brothers. When Joey knocks over his milk, he is locked outside his house until the meal is over. His life consists of a father who hits rather than talks and has taught his older sons to do the same. Joey has seen Naomi out in her yard many times, coming and going. He has never had the courage to speak to her. Today, that will all change.

How do eleven-year-old children cope with tragedy in their lives? Some assume that the problems are their fault, and they take on the weight of the responsibility. Some blame the parent and become belligerent and uncooperative. Some reach deep down inside themselves and discover a strength they did not know was there. Joey and Naomi are going to become the best of friends through their tragedies. They are going to learn the security of the nest, and they are going to learn to fly again.
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