Nest (Sweeney)

The Nest 
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, 2016
HarperCollins
368 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780062414212



Summary
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. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1960
Raised—Rochester, New York, USA
Education—B.A., St. Bonaventure University; M.F.A., Bennington Writing Seminars
Currently—lives in Los Angeles, California


Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons. She has an MFA from The Bennington Writing Seminars.

Previously, she lived and worked in New York City for more than two decades, writing copy for a variety of clients, including American Express, McDonald’s and more defunct Internet start-ups than she cares to count. Her non-fiction essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine and Martha Stewart Living. The Nest is her first novel. (From the publisher.)



Book Reviews
[f]our middle-aged Plumb siblings...await the distribution of the trust fund their father had established for them.... [Sweeney's] writing is assured, energetic, and adroitly plotted, sweeping the reader along through an engrossing narrative that endears readers to the Plumb family for their essential humanity.
Publishers Weekly


This anticipated debut novel...typifies the Internet meme "white people problems"..... Anyone with siblings will appreciate the character dynamics at play here, although they may not care much for each character individually. A fun, quick read recommended for fans of Emma Straub and Meg Wolitzer.  —Kate Gray, Boston P.L., MA
Library Journal


(Starred review.) Dysfunctional siblings in New York wig out when the eldest blows their shared inheritance.... A fetching debut from an author who knows her city, its people, and their hearts.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also, consider these LitLovers talking points to helps start a discussion for The Nest...then take off on your own:

1. Just how dysfunctional is the Plumb family...and why? Why do the siblings allow Leo to have such power over them? If you could advise any or all four of them, how would you counsel them about living their lives?

2. At the beginning of the book, each of the siblings has a drink at a Manhattan watering hole before meeting the others. What do those moments reveal about them?

3. Melodie, Beatrice, Jack and Leo all have behaved somewhat (or very) irresponsibly. Is there one of them with whom you sympathize more than the others? Or are they all caught up in a sense of their own entitlement?

4. How would you live your life if you knew you were to receive a fair amount of money down the line?

5. Talk, too, about the secondary characters and the roles they play in the story: grandchildren, Jack’s husband, Melody’s husband, Leo’s girlfriend, and Bea’s boss.

6. Ultimately, this book is about defining ourselves as individuals within a family (or even a career). How does each character learn who he or she is and what ultimately makes for a fulfilling life?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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