Is there always a positive side? + “The Nest” by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

201208-omag-quiz-half-empty-glass-600x411I’m a glass half full kind of woman. I always thought that for every experience we go through, we can find a bit of positive, learn a lesson, and come out a better person.

But I’m starting to believe that maybe I’ve always been wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not forever smiling and happy. I cry a lot-any big emotion makes me cry. Really happy? Cry. Overly proud? Cry. Feeling hurt? Cry. Angry? Cry. And, if I’m sad, I cry. I really cry.

But, despite the overdose of emotion (or maybe because of it), I’m usually one who can find the silver lining. I can usually find something positive in a situation. When people are acting unreasonably or oddly, I try to think of a backstory or a reason for their actions. Granted, it doesn’t always make me like those actions or even the person, but I try.

Lately, though, I’m having a tough time finding the positive. There are so many bad things happening to good people, so many people going through rough times. People I like and understand. People I love.

I’m not feeling hopeless, just less optimistic. I’m just starting to think that the glass is more on the empty side.

So, I’m asking you all: Is there always an upside? Is there always a silver lining or a lesson to be learned? Isn’t the glass half full the same as the glass half empty? What if the glass is half full of crap? If so, wouldn’t it be better if this glass were half (or all the way) empty? I think we can agree that a glass of crap should be closer to empty. So, on this vein of thought, maybe the pessimists are onto something.

I’m hoping that in a few months my beliefs in “an upside” are confirmed. I hope things come out okay, and/or that I’ve learned some deep life lessons. That we’re all better people, closer to those we love, because of what we’ve gone through.

We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

Okay, onto The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

She was so much better at being alone; being alone came more naturally to her. She led a life of deliberate solitude, and if occasional loneliness crept in, she knew how to work her way out of that particular divot. Or even better, how to sink in and absorb its particular comforts.
― Cynthia A’Prix Sweeney


The Premise

Despite their father’s wishes, the Plumb children have grown up to expect an inheritance. He started a little fund for them, which, through years of wise investments and a lot of luck, grew to be a decent chunk of change for each of them. Which is a problem.

See, their father wanted them to have something, but didn’t want them to expect it. He provisioned it so all four of them would receive it at the same time, when the youngest, Melody, turned 40. Their father didn’t want it too be much, but he died before it grew. So, through their younger adult lives, they came to expect it. They began to bank on The Nest.

Then the oldest of the four, Leo, drunk and high, gets behind the wheel of his car with a young, beautiful waitress, and crashes. With one fell swoop, Leo wipes out the majority of The Nest paying off the waitress and her family (her foot had to be amputated), and to buy himself out of his failed marriage. And it’s almost time for The Nest to be divvied up.

After rehab, Leo reassures his siblings that he will pay The Nest back, and he will have the money or a plan in three months. Although none are sure that he can pull it off, the Plumb siblings are in need of their portion of “The Nest.” Melody, the baby, has been banking on it as a way to send her twins off to good colleges. Jack, an antiques dealer, has been borrowing against the beach cottage he and his husband share in order to keep his shop open and running. Bea doesn’t really need the money, but the shadow of Leo has halted her ability to finish her novel, which has been expected for years.

As all the Plumbs grapple with the decisions they had made, they come together as adults as never before. All must come to terms with how they want to move forward in life, and how Leo had affected them all.

My Thoughts

On the surface, this book seems obvious. Four children expecting a fortune, fighting and dealing with their fights. But there is so much more.

A’Prix Sweeney works magic into these people. She brings them to full life, making them full and imaginable and alive. No character, minor or major, escape this magic.

Throughout the The Nest, A’Prix Sweeney takes us deep into the minds of each of the siblings, doing a great job of creating full, rich characters. But, within the  story of “The Nest” and each of their individual stories,  A’Prix Sweeney weaves the tales of the incidental, peripheral characters, those most affected by the Plumbs (especially Leo). I love that this was story of family, but also a story of those affected by this family.

This is so much more than a great book. It’s a such a rich, real character study, and a full frontal look at a dysfunctional family. It’s about how, in the end, family is blood, and anything can be overcome if you have the right support.

I loved this book. It’s a beautiful, engrossing read. Perfect for the beach, but so much more than a beach read. I give it five stars. Yep. Five stars.


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