Nest by Esther Ehrlich is juvenile fiction set in the early 1970s.
or Chirp, as she prefers to be called, lives a happy, secure life with
her close-knit family on Cape Cod. During Chirp's eleventh year,
however, her life changes in many ways. When her mother is diagnosed
with multiple sclerosis and then sinks into a deep depression for which
she is hospitalized for many months, Chirp, her father, and her older
sister are left to struggle along together, each taking on roles
unfamiliar to them. In this uncertain time, Chirp forms a tentative
friendship with Joey, the boy next door, whose unhappy home life is a
dark contrast to Chirp's. And when Chirp is going through a particularly
difficult time, her friendship with Joey may provide the safe space
that she needs when her world seems to be falling apart.
book does a fine job of being poignant but not manipulative in dealing
with serious subject matter. Characterization is definitely one of this
author's strong suits -- each character is flawed but likable, and acts
in ways that seemed to me entirely true to life. I do wonder why the
author chose to set the book in the 1970s, as opposed to present-day.
All in all, this is a good book for readers who enjoy juvenile fiction
that touches on serious issues.
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)