Nest book cover

Now in paperback!

ALA 2015 Notable Children's Book

School Library Journal Best Books of 2014

Amazon Top 20 Children's Books of 2014

Northern California Book Award in Children's Literature nominee

  • A poignant, insightful story of family crisis and the healing power of friendship.

    Kirkus, starred review
  • A stunning debut, with lyrical prose and superbly developed characters, this novel is an emotional roller coaster that effectively conveys a family’s visceral tragedy.

    School Library Journal, starred review
  • Ehrlich’s novel beautifully captures the fragile bond shared by Chirp and Joey and their growing trust for each other…

    Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • The greatest strength of Nest is Chirp's clear, strong, believable voice. First-person present tense brings us close to her from the outset, and Ehrlich never hits a false note with this endearing, vulnerable, utterly authentic little girl.

    New York Times Book Review
  • Nest sings with heart and emotion. Simply gorgeous.

    Jennifer L. Holm, New York Times bestselling author of Turtle in Paradise
  • A remarkable work. Esther Ehrlich’s characters stand out so real and true: Chirp’s friendship with Joey is tender and moving, and truly unforgettable. One can see Cape Cod and feel Chirp’s love for the birds wheeling overhead. I wanted this story to go on and on. What a brilliant future this author has. I can’t wait to read her next book.

    Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery Honor-winning author

From the Book Jacket

“Home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein; her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But when Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, the family struggles with tragic changes.

Chirp gets comfort from watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the road. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.”

Nest Excerpt

Read the opening of Nest.

download Nest chapter sampler PDF


  • San Francisco Chronicle review, January 2015 read
  • Publisher's Weekly Fall 2014 Flying Starts read
  • Omnivoracious Amazon Blog, Interview with Jennifer Holm, September 11, 2014 read
  • Publisher's Weekly starred review, July 14, 2014 read
  • School Library Journal starred review, June 10, 2014 read
  • Kirkus starred review, May 15, 2014 read


Nest will be published in Germany in 2016 by Aladin Verlag!

Nest was published in the UK this summer by Rock the Boat, a new imprint at Oneworld Publications!

About Esther

Esther Ehrlich

Esther Ehrlich is the author of Nest, her debut novel published by Wendy Lamb Books/Random House in September 2014. Ehrlich was born and raised in Boston, graduated from Vassar College, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Here’s more you might like to know:

I’m the youngest of four children, all of us very close in age. In the neighborhood we grew up in, kids played four-square in the street, tag in the nearby field, and ice-skated at Crystal Lake in winter. The one rule that I remember? Be home by dinner. When life felt rough, school was a comfort. So were my best friends, two rabbits who lived in a hutch in our backyard. I spent as much time with them as I could and tried my hardest to teach them to come, sit, and stay. And books. I especially loved the sad but ultimately hopeful ones where kids took matters into their own hands and made things happen.

What else?

In my Jewish family, everybody talked at once and interrupting wasn’t considered interrupting and it was perfectly normal, expected even, to ask a ton of questions and answer a question with another question.

For a few weeks each summer, I ran wild on Cape Cod, tromping around the dunes, swimming across ponds, sleeping in a tent or throwing a sleeping bag down on the thick mat of bearberry and watching the stars until I drifted off to sleep.

My experience in math class, early on, wasn’t good. The class was set up to be competitive and it made numbers feel intimidating—rigid and harsh. Words, by contrast, felt wonderfully flexible, full of possibility, of light.

And so many years later, they still do. It feels like an amazing gift to spend my time choosing words to shape into sentences to create stories that I can share with others.

Chirp’s Birds

Here are some of the birds that Chirp loves and talks about in Nest. These illustrations were created for this website by Teagan White, the artist who also did the gorgeous artwork on the cover and interior of the book—and also the feather on this site. See more of Teagan’s work at


A flash of yellow. Goldfinches! Mom grabs my hand and squeezes. Yes! Yes! I squeeze back.

Nest, p. 78
Red-winged Blackbird

I see a red-winged blackbird pecking dried-out blueberries off a bush.

Nest, p. 33
Great Blue Heron

It’s a great blue heron. It croaks like a big fat bullfrog.

Nest, p. 161
Red-throated Loon

What you’re about to see is my interpretation of a red-throated loon taking flight, first from land, then from water.

Nest, p. 226
Mourning Dove

The mourning doves make the saddest sound, and I can’t help it, I close my eyes and moan along with them, oh, oh, oh, while Joey keeps sweeping.

Nest, p. 260

Hannah and the Disability Rights Movement

In the 1970s, when Nest takes place, there were far fewer resources for people with disabilities than there are today. Hannah might have felt less discouraged about her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and more able to cope with her depression if she’d been able to benefit from some of the important changes brought about by the Disability Rights Movement.

To learn more about this movement, please check out an oral history project that I was a part of. You might be especially interested in a related project on artists with disabilities. I think Hannah would have been excited by AXIS Dance Company!


Want to be in touch with me?

For school and library events:
Lisa McClatchy, Author Appearance Coordinator

Literary Agent:
Susan Golomb Literary Agency