Parents' Guide to

The Nest

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Poignant sick-sibling tale blurs lines of real and imagined.

The Nest Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 1 parent review

age 10+

Storm of words inside himself, narrator suffers in silence while his parents protect him

An 11-ish-year-old boy experiences the PTSD-like effects of a slow-motion family emergency. His parents have just had a new baby with some kind of birth defect. While his parents suffer days and weeks of questions without answers, emergency room visits, specialists, bills, etc., his younger sister seems oblivious to the trouble. The narrator doesn't have many friends and is too embarrassed to share his vivid and troubling dreams, thoughts, and self-talk (interior monologue, I suppose). Once or twice, the novel risks losing my suspension of disbelief. But the candor and emotional intensity of the narrator's self-talk really carries me through those times. I trust the narrator long before he trusts himself. I love his voice! Especially impressive by the author was what he holds back from the narrator. The narrator, for a long time, never says his brother's name. As scared as he ever is, he doesn't call for help. I am also impressed by what the narrator sees and tells of his parents and other adults - mistakes, neglect, love. Seeing and telling are balanced really well - which is a great way to help me not judge the characters. Some other more mature subject matter includes: - the narrator blackmailing his babysitter into lying to his parents; - the narrator's parents leaving him home alone with the sickly newborn for several hours; - his sneaking into his parents' office, snooping in drawers, and finding something dangerous. I don't find the cover, inside jacket, or opening chapter compelling at first, especially for younger readers. That may be a plus for deterring kids too young for some subject matter. I'll definitely share this with my oldest daughter.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

With expert pacing, hopeful messages of accepting faults and struggles, and creepy tension, it's hard to decide what to like best about this tiny but significant novel. Author Kenneth Oppel, who wrote the equally enthralling The Boundless only a year before THE NEST -- he's really on a roll -- presents a family struggling with the stress of a sick baby through the eyes of Steve, a boy whose age isn't given (but he's probably in middle school). He's anxious enough to see a therapist, washes his hands too often, and is afraid to even say the name of the family's new baby who's come into the house and may not live.

That in itself would be a compelling story in Oppel's hands. But then there are Steve's dreams about the wasps that are way too real. And a scary knife sharpener with missing fingers who goes door to door. And a toy telephone the little sister answers to talk to "Mr. Nobody." Readers will be torn like Steve about what to believe is real and who's really on his side. The tension builds right after Steve makes a profound decision about what he stands for. And he's willing to risk his life for it. After readers close the book and the tension of the climax fades, the beautiful themes in The Nest linger. A favorite: that Steve's family will have struggles and his brother won't be perfect but he's part of the family and is loved and valued for who he is, just as Steve is loved and valued.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate