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“The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is a debut novel about the totally dysfunctional Plumb siblings. In an interesting prologue, the oldest sibling, Leo, leaves his cousin’s wedding with a 19-year-old waitress, abandoning his wife at the party, and proceeds to total his car.
The consequences of this accident are withheld for quite some time. However, to make his troubles go away, Leo plunders the siblings’ $2 million shared inheritance trust fund.
The book’s title refers to the nest egg each are due when the youngest, Melody, turns 40. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest inheritance, the trust fund soars with the stock market. The siblings have been counting on the money to solve a number of their financial problems. They have built their adult lives on the promise of this trust fund. As the other three siblings soon learn, most of the money they expected has been given to Leo by their mother and their funds are dramatically drained. Their shared inheritance covered up Leo’s indiscretion, paying out for legal fees, medical bills, and hush money.
Melody, Jack, and Beatrice decide to meet at the Grand Central Oyster Bar to discuss Leo’s plan to pay them back. Leo promises to make good on the money. Brought together, the four siblings must come to terms with old resentments, present day pressures and the emotional and financial toll of the accident.
Leo has been the most successful of them, but he sold his once profitable business and married a woman who wanted nothing more than to spend every dime, and Leo is now penniless, or so they think. The other three feel sorry for him. They even admire him in some ways. Leo is, after all, the oldest. They each have memories of him being very kind to them when they were children.
When Beatrice wanted to publish a short story, it was Leo who introduced her to her agent. Melody, the youngest, was often neglected as a child by their dysfunctional parents. All she wanted at one time was a happy birthday party. Her mother promised her one, but it was Leo who saved it from being a total disaster. All three children planned on using the nest egg when it became available. They feel that without the money their lives will be ruined.
This captivating story is about finding what is important in life. As a result of their quest to obtain the “nest” the siblings find there is an even greater nest to be had. A story about power, the way siblings depend on each other, the way siblings let each other down and what money does to relationships
Up to this point, the siblings had not really been involved in each others’ lives, but as things don’t work out as expected, they come to appreciate each other. It is a study of how expectations play out in life, not just the financial ones, but also those about our closest relationships.
There are many other stories within the main story that give depth to this novel.