[691]: The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Squabbling siblings, family drama, and the inheritance that will either bind them closer or pull them further apart.


For what its worth, The Nest was an easy book to digest. It took me a day or so – tops to finish reading. But for all its promises of  a “warm and funny” read, this book was everything but.

Perhaps it’s that I couldn’t, for the life of me, sympathize with the financial plights and exploits each one of them were going through. Or maybe it’s because I see myself commiting the same blunder upon knowing that they’re bound to receive a big winfall  (spend the money before I even get my share). Whatever it was, it just didn’t do much for me.

After the death of the Plumb patriarch, the siblings learned of an inheritance that will come once the youngest (Melody) turns 40. Over the years, and through the conscientious effort of the family lawyer, the inheritance grew to a ridiculous amount. But in just one night, the money all but disappeared. The Nest, in essence, is the story of a family who depended way too much on this inheritance that when they realize there’s barely any left, watched their own families and relationships fall into ruin. It’s a cautionary tale about what comes of spending the money before you even have it in your possession. While the  inheritance was growing into a vast fortune, the siblings were accumulating debts left and right.

I’ve read my fair share of books containing themes of “rich people problems”. Some of them are ridiculous and funny, and most are honest and trite. The Nest, I found, was uninspiring. The wry, self-deprecating humour I’ve come to expect from rich people dealing with their dysfunctional problems just wasn’t there. If anything, this book’s supposed “underlying” serious tones overpowered what was meant to be a funny read.

But the good thing about this book is the author’s choice of setting. What would be a more perfect backdrop for a group of cynical people than New York City? The hub of success and failure; affluence and slum; culture and society’s decline. It’s very diverse, alive and full of character in itself.  It’s manic and somehow perfect in a way that parallels the Plumb’s anxiety for their troubling future.

I did, however, find that they were very forgiving of Leo (the oldest) even if he was the selfish prick who ruined marriages and lives. And in that sense, I guess the great message of this book is that you can’t pick and choose whom to love. Family is family, and no matter how much you want to smother your sibling in their sleep, the thought of wearing an orange jumpsuit gives you nightmares for days to come.