A Marvelous YA Novel about the Perfection of the Imperfect

The Nest, by Kenneth Oppel with illustrations by Jon Klassen, (Simon & Schuster), 256 pages, release date 6 October, 2015

Kenneth Oppel is one of those YA authors I read with great pleasure. He’s a master of narrative suspense and deftly balances the magical and the ominous. The Nest is no exception.

Steven, the novel’s central character, is a highly anxious child, with a long list of fears and compulsive behaviors. And now a new baby’s been added to the family—a baby with serious health problems that may result in death or life-long impairment.

When an angel-like wasp appears to Steve in a dream promising to “fix” the baby, Steve welcomes her efforts enthusiastically. But as the plan to fix Steve’s new brother progresses, Steve begins to see that imperfections, even tragic ones, can be an essential part of who we are.

This book pulled me in from the beginning and I read the second half in one mad rush on an afternoon when I had plenty of other tasks on my “to-do” list. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt compelled to race through a novel in this way—that’s how good The Nest is. In fact, I expect it will become one of “the essentials,” the titles I read over again every few years because their pleasures don’t dim, and I can always find something new in them.

This is a book to give to yourself and to the other dedicated readers in your life, regardless of their age. Its magic transcends limits of age or genre.

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