“The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney was described to me as a book about a dysfunctional family. When I heard that, I pictured “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” – a fun, light story about a quirky dysfunctional family. That is what I expected from “The Nest” and that is not at all what was delivered. It was not so much a drama/comedy as it was just a full drama. Not that I dislike dramas, but the suggested comedy was part of why I chose this book. This was no lighthearted read.
The first person in the dysfunctional family that we meet is Leo. We soon learn that he is an overindulgent, entitled, selfish man-child. “The bubbles rising and falling on Matilda’s tray felt like an ecstatic summons, an invitation meant just for him.” (The Nest, pg 2). This expectant attitude that he has towards everything in his life is part of what made him so distasteful to me, but it did catch up to him within the first few pages.
Dysfunctional seems an inadequate word to describe this family. I found it really difficult to like most of the characters. It was more: here is a book about a family full of terrible people and what they do to each other. There were some characters that were more despicable than others. Leo was pretty bad. After meeting the mother of these five adult children, it makes a little more sense why they are the way they are. The combination of the two of them, Leo and his actions, and his mother, who tries to keep up appearances, actually bring the rest of the family closer together as a united front against them. But each person had his or her own way of being kind of terrible. And I found the whole concept about what the nest was a little hard to relate to personally. I liked Bea’s character, but the rest of her siblings and almost everyone else in the book was very difficult to like.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and no…I think that it was a good read and I became absorbed in the novel when I was reading it. But at the same time, I didn’t like a lot of the characters, which makes it harder for me to enjoy a book overall. I think if this book was pitched to me differently, or not at all, I would have enjoyed it more. Going into reading the book with certain expectations made the whole reading experience a little more challenging to enjoy. But I think Sweeney did capture the characters’ difference voices well and the plot moved along quite nicely. I would pick up more of her work.