Written by Esther Ehrlich
This is a great addition to recent literature for fourth graders and up. Chirp is a happy fifth grader who loves her dancer mother and is trying to figure out her psychiatrist father. Her home is shattered when her mother is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mom doesn’t react well. Chirp tries to keep a positive attitude, but Mom goes into a deep depression and needs to be hospitalized. All is seemingly better when, three months later, Mom returns home. Mom can’t handle all the changes and commits suicide. Chirp and her neighbor, Joey, who is suffering abuse at the hands of his father, take off from Cape Cod to Boston. Chirp has known happier times in Boston, riding the swan boats with Mom.
Though Nest is set in 1972, it deals with a lot of issues that may be confronting kids these days. The author does a great job of dealing with the issues from the viewpoint of an eleven-year-old without losing the fact that those around her also have feelings. An added bonus is Chirp’s ornithological knowledge. She often identifies birds by their song or by the way they build their nests. When her mother dies, she builds her own little nest in her bedroom. Through much of the book, the reader can’t help but be drawn in by Chirp’s optimistic outlook.