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Archive for the ‘Multiple Sclerosis’ Category

NestNest by Esther Ehrlich is another one of my “Cape Cod” books. It’s a sad book, uplifting but sad overall. Naomi (aka Chirp because she loves to bird watch) is eleven years old and her mother, Hannah, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Hannah has not taken the news well and has gone into a deep depression, so deep that Chirp’s psychiatrist father has her committed. Taking place in 1972 when electroshock therapy was a common treatment for depression, Hannah undergoes this therapy. Chirp’s older sister, Rachel, is repelled by the thought of what her father is forcing on her mother and uses every opportunity to act out against him. Unfortunately, Chirp is caught in the crossfire.

Chirp’s next door neighbor, Joey, is an odd duck. It is implied that he gets beaten up at home. The two form an unlikely friendship, both going through hard times, somewhat lost in the world.

Each has a secret place to go when they need to be alone, shoot off some steam, contemplate their lives. Chirp’s is a spot under a tree where she can take out her binocs and bird watch. Joey’s is a glass house where he can throw stones and break glass.

The complications in their lives come to the point where they can no longer cope. They decide to run away…to Boston and the swan boats in Boston Commons, because Chirp has happy memories of going  there with her dancer mother. As you might expect, though, an eleven year old’s memories may not jive with current reality.

Nest is Ehrlich’s first novel. She paints a realistic picture of a home torn apart by illness. Children are helpless and sometimes don’t understand the actions taken by adults. The stigma of having a parent in the ‘nuthouse’ (Ehrlich’s word, not mine) can wreak untold havoc on a child…thus their need to keep it a secret. The quiet friendship between Chirp and Joey, two kids realizing the other is going through tough times, is heartwarming. The Cape Cod backdrop plays a minor role in the story. Nest is a story worth reading and Esther Ehrlich is an author worth watching.

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