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The Nest by Cynthia D. Sweeney
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.

Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs' joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.

Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.

This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.
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About the Book
Time Period
  • Contemporary


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This book was mentioned as one of last year's notable books, but I happen to agree with a number of reviewers that it is a light beach read. The story is familiar - a dysfunctional family with one narcissist, one tough cookie, one hard-done by baby sister and a gay man, as well as a dippy mother. The premise behind the story is that the family of Plumb siblings have been waiting for the 40th birthday of the youngest to get a financial settlement that their father had set aside for them. The bequest has always been referred to by the siblings as "the nest". As in most families where money is held in abeyance, that is all that the siblings can think of, and each of them wants the money for their own personal needs. The story is about how the majority of the bequest had been used to bail their older brother out of a great deal of legal difficulty when he injured a young girl in a car accident and it caused her to lose her foot. Leo was high and drunk at the time. Now the other three siblings won't move on with their lives because they are looking for their money. I didn't find the characters very believable and there was really no plot to speak of. A light piece of fluff is how I'd describe this book, but I did manage to finish it, and was mildly interested to see how the siblings ended up. 2 stars
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