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Read With IBC | Book Club for The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Read With IBC | Book Club for The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

As with all book clubs, a great part of the joy of our Imaginary Book Club is reading together and chatting about what we’ve read as a group. For more info on how our online book club work, and the many ways you can participate, hop over here or sign up to read with us

Each month our #ReadWithIBC post is the place for a no-holds-barred, spoilers-allowed, debate-encouraged discussion of our latest read.

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The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

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.

27 Comments

  1. Whitney

    I loved how The Nest changes perspectives throughout – at different times I felt sympathetic to each of the Plumbs.

    Reply
    • Kate

      I always love a good multiple perspectives book. I think it really keeps the story moving, even in instances where not much is happening plot-wise. That happened a lot in The Nest; at times there wasn’t really much happening, but I still enjoyed learning more about each character’s life and was excited all the way through to see how everything was going to fit together in the end.

      Reply
  2. Austyn

    I must disclose that I didn’t enjoy this book. I read Modern Lovers right before this, and it was too much of the same “middle aged New Yorkers struggle with love and family,” and I disliked 99% of the characters. I normally like multiple perspectives but in this book it didn’t help the story be less boring.

    Reply
  3. Whitney

    Did y’all identify with any of the Plumbs?

    Reply
    • Kate

      Thanks to my private college education, I definitely identified with Melody and Jack and their panic about the enormous debts they owed! 🙂

      But seriously, I did relate to each of them at different points. It might be because I come from a huge family, but it was so interesting to me to see the dynamics between the siblings and how everyone had a role they were sort of expected to fill. As much as Leo drove me insane, I can see how his bad behavior was fueled by the pressure he was under to be the keystone for the entire family. I ended up feeling sorry for him more so than for any of the others because as the oldest, he really didn’t have any say in everyone looking up to him and expecting so much of him.

      Reply
    • Austyn

      Nope. I mean, I too have spent money before I have it (hello credit card debt!) but that was it. They were mostly all terrible to their loved ones. It got old.

      Reply
  4. Whitney

    In a way, this really reminded me of J.D. Salinger writing about the Glass family. A little dysfunction, a little emotional/psychological crisis, a lot of immature behavior from people who are supposed to be grown adults.

    Reply
    • Bev

      I like a little dysfunction in a story, aren’t most families kind of dysfunctional, it makes a story more real and characters more identifiable. I liked haw the family was starting to function better after the baby was born, they were becoming more like what we hope a family would be.

      Reply
  5. Kate

    We talked a lot about immaturity from adults when we read Big Little Lies, but I think this time a lot of it was driven more by desperation than sheer pettiness. Each of these characters had something huge hanging over their heads that lead to them behave the way they did. Not that they should be excused, but at least in this book you could really see what was causing the behavior whereas in Big Little Lies, I could not understand 90% of the behavior of those moms, other than just being a crappy person.

    Reply
    • Austyn

      See I disagree. So many of their problems came because they spent the best before they actually had it, and because they lied to their partners and family members about it. Who takes out a second mortgage without consulting their partner?? Not cool.

      Reply
      • Kate

        Agreed on that front!

        Reply
  6. Whitney

    One of the things that I did appreciate about The Nest was how much each of the characters grew throughout the book. We got to see Melody, Bea, Jack and Leo grow and change… well, maybe not Leo.

    Reply
    • Kate

      I liked that about this book, too. It was a realistic amount of growth for the short period covered, not some crazy turn around that changed the fabric of who these people are, which I liked. And I think Leo did grow. He finally realized that he wasn’t the hero the family wanted him to be, and that the healthiest thing for everyone was for him to disappear. It might look like he was being selfish by leaving, but he gave everyone else the freedom to finally grow up without his larger-than-life persona hovering over them all.

      Reply
    • Austyn

      Stephanie was my favorite character and her growth was the only one I enjoyed seeing. And I do think Leo grew. He was still a douche, but (SPOILER ALERT) at least he had the presence of mind to leave and know his family would be better for it.

      Reply
      • Bev

        I don’t think Leo left, knowing his family was better without him. I think he left, because he is a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about anyone else.

        Reply
        • Whitney

          I was a bit torn with Leo – he kind of seemed like he could see Bea was happy at the end and just let her be, but I agree that he was super selfish. He might have just chickened out.

          Reply
  7. Whitney

    What did you think of Leo and Bea’s final glances at each other? Did you hope that things would go differently for Leo?

    Reply
    • Kate

      I loved this! To me, it was perfect. They both knew it wasn’t the right thing for them to reunite and they, maybe for the first time, made the right decision regarding what’s best for everyone. I think Leo needed to be on his own, both for his sake and for the sakes of everyone he left behind, so I was satisfied with how things ended for him.

      Reply
    • Austyn

      I hoped Leo would wind up in jail, haha, but I’m glad that Bea realized she didn’t need Leo’s approval to be a great writer or to be her own person, if that makes sense.

      Reply
    • Bev

      I was so afraid that he would show himself and screw up all of the normalcy that was starting to happen in the family. I guess I was expecting that because of The Price of Salt.

      Reply
      • Whitney

        Definitely. I kind of hoped he’d stay away!

        Reply
  8. Kate

    Did anyone else realize about halfway through that they weren’t even thinking about what would happen with The Nest itself? I was so caught up in everything else that I stopped wondering if/how Leo was going to pay everyone back. The author was so clever in subtly shifting the focus from the money to the characters. Good job, Cynthia!

    Reply
    • Austyn

      Even though I found this book boring and disliked most characters, I thought the way she interwove so many different stories together was well done. I can appreciate it even if I didn’t enjoy it.

      Reply
    • Austyn

      No, sorry. Not my jam.

      Reply
    • Kate

      Definitely. I loved the drama and the unexpected turns!

      Reply
    • Whitney

      Yeah, I think I would! I thought it was a good read.

      Reply

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