Book Review: The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
While this book is a quick and fun read, my review will be spotty to remain spoiler-free.
The Plumb siblings have spent years watching their trust-fund grow into a small fortune available to each of them when they turn 40. Two brothers and two sisters have all spent beyond their means assuming that "The Nest" will solve their financial difficulties.
And then a drunken and high Leo, the oldest brother, gets into a car accident that changes the life of his passenger forever. Mother Plumb decides to rescue her boy and "The Nest" is almost completely obliterated.
After this prologue, the story begins months later with Leo leaving rehab and meeting with his three siblings to discuss how he may pay them back.
Leo is reprehensible. Every decision he makes centers around his own interest. He's a philandering sham of a human being. Completely nonredeemable, which works out well for how his siblings are perceived.
I wouldn't want to be friends with any of the Plumb siblings, but Melody, Beatrice, and Jack are not completely unlikable. They're flawed. They possess tunnel vision where "The Nest" is concerned. And they all choose good people as spouses and friends. With the help of these supporting characters, the three siblings figure out their next moves.
There are some flashback scenes and memories shared that help explain how each sibling's attitude toward money and relationships formed. I see glimpses of their younger selves and think that I could have been friends with them until their later obsession with "The Nest" warped their hold on reality.
Really, I find this concept of depending upon an inheritance quite fascinating. The siblings are Gen-Xer's whose Baby Boomer parents invested well. Rather than living modestly, they all see their inheritance as a right to a level of prosperity that they didn't earn. Seeing each back story from their youth helps humanize the characters.
A variety of other supporting characters pop up as well. I made the assumption that their lives would tangle with the siblings' lives at various points. Seeing how these different people affected one another made the book fly by.
In particular, I loved the character of Stephanie, once Bea's literary agent and on-again-off-again girlfriend of the buffoon Leo. She's fine with her shaky status with Leo because she recognizes that she's better at being a loner. She doesn't need Leo or his money. She also makes some interesting observations about human nature. For example, at one point she thinks, "Women walk away from something broken. Men hold on for dear life."
Her grit and ability to dig in are traits I truly admire in a character and a person. I looked forward to scenes where she made an appearance.
If you're looking for a book about dysfunctional family dynamics, then The Nest may be just the story for you. Although it's a fast read, it's still intriguing. I found myself wondering how each of the siblings would behave and measuring how I thought I would react in a similar situation. What decisions would they make? How would their spouse react? Their friends? How would their relationship to money change, if at all?