The Nest

Ecco: HarperCollins. Mar. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9780062414212. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062414236. F
This anticipated debut novel from Sweeney typifies the Internet meme "white people problems" even more than most current New York City-based literary fiction. It concerns the Plumb siblings, four middle-class New Yorkers, and their upcoming inheritance. The Plumb patriarch set aside a sum to become available to the four of them when the youngest, Melody, turned 40, in order to teach them a lesson about independence. The story opens with Leo Plumb high on cocaine and getting into a car wreck as he seduces a 19-year-old waitress, a scandal that puts the now hefty inheritance at risk. The story moves along briskly, shifting perspectives between the Plumbs and those associated with them. There is Melody, the youngest, and her teenage daughter's sexual awakening; Jack, an antique dealer, and his secret husband; Leo and publisher girlfriend Stephanie, who owns a brownstone in Brooklyn and rents the lower floor to a man who lost his wife in 9/11; and finally, Bea, the failed novelist. These stories are seamlessly combined as predictable tragedies and triumphs befall everyone.
VERDICT Anyone with siblings will appreciate the character dynamics at play here, although they may not care much for each character individually. A fun, quick read recommended for fans of Emma Straub and Meg Wolitzer. [See Prepub Alert, 9/28/15.]
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