Monday, June 3, 2019
Read by Mia Barron
Published March 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: bought for my Nook
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.
Guys, this book appeared on a lot of "best-of" books in 2016. I'm afraid I don't get it. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to like about this book. But "best-of?"
Why not? Because I really didn't care about these characters. Even unlikable characters need to make me care what happens to them (even if that means I'm hoping they'll get hit by a bus). Leo is an ass who cheats on his wife (who, as it turns out is a terrible person as well) and the other three are people who are mad because the windfall they were counting on to bail them out of the terrible decisions they've made is gone. It's not that these characters are stupid people who couldn't be expected to know better, they are just people who lived beyond their means. Yes, I know that a lot of people have found themselves in this position. But a whole family of them?
The truth of the matter is that the nest egg is merely a plot device Sweeney uses to explore a lot of different kinds of people. Each of the siblings represents a different kind of life, both in their life styles and their occupations, as do the many characters that Sweeney works into the story. In that regard, I did find the book interesting. Sweeney juxtaposes a young girl discovering she is gay with her middle-aged uncle who survived the AIDS epidemic because he settled into a long-term monogamous relationship with a man that he secretly married. We have the Plumb siblings' mother who could hardly be less motherly to compare against her daughter, Melody, who documents the amount of time she spends with each of her daughters to make sure they both get equal attention.
Do they all finally grow up and learn their lessons? I'm not going to give that away other than to say that I did find the end of the book satisfying and true to the character's characters.