Thursday, 3 December 2009

Review – The Nest © G.S. Wiley

 

 

Title: The Nest

Author: G.S. Wiley

Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press

Main Characters: Jay McIntyre & Brendan Cuddy

Jay McIntyre's main goal in life is to keep his younger siblings together and away from Social Services, who he's certain will separate them if they know his mother left two years ago.  Juggling two jobs and the responsibility of caring for three children, the nineteen year old's problems are compounded when Jess, his younger sister, begins to rebel and when an old enemy is released from prison and returns to his housing estate.

Overwhelmed and at the end of his rope, Jay is finally forced to seek for help from a surprising source: Police Constable Brendan Cuddy.

 

Jay expected Brendan would leave once Nico and Zoë were in bed, but when Jay got back downstairs, he was sitting on the sofa and didn’t seem about to move.

"You’re really good with them," Jay had to admit.  "Do you have brothers and sisters?"  Brendan shook his head.  "Kids?"  Brendan laughed, but it wasn’t impossible.  There were plenty of people younger than him with kids on the estate, and, judging from the looks a few dads had given Jay in the pub, having kids didn’t necessarily mean you were straight.

"I didn’t have good enough parents to want kids of my own," Brendan said.  "What about you?"

Jay shook his head.  "I reckon by the time I’m done with this lot, I’ll be happy if I never see another kid as long as I live."

Brendan didn’t say anything.  Jay felt fidgety but before he could stand up again, Brendan had moved closer and was looking at him with determination in his eyes. 

Jay could think of a million reasons why they shouldn’t do this, but when Brendan moved even closer and pressed their lips together, he couldn’t remember any of them.

The Nest © G.S. Wiley

 

Review

Jay is a young man belaboured with the task of raising three siblings while facing a multitude of issues on the local sink estate that he lives in called The Nest.

Getting the kids off to school, racing from job to job coupled with the fact that he has to make his way in a community where all the boys he grew up with are either trying to make the next big thing or pull a fast one – depending on who he meets at any particular time of day. If all those things weren’t bad enough social services wanting to see his missing mother and a new  police officer taking a keen interest in his family is so not what Jay wanted or needed at any point.

Jay has committed himself to his little family, they are his all and despite his wondering mind thinking about his sexuality – he take the breaks that life tosses at him and rolls with them.

When a litany of events start happening all at once Jay finds himself with his back against the wall and has only one option to use to make it through the day - he ask a police officer for help. The police officer in question is new patrol Police Constable, Brendan Cuddy.

Brendan is new to The Nest but he is not fooled about how it works and when a few days later he spots what looks to be an unknown story in flat 28 – he decides to keep a keen eye. There is nothing to be gleamed from any of the occupant from that flat – neither 19yrs old Jay nor his siblings are keen to speak to him, despite this he knows to follow his instinct and keep an eye out.

That however wont be hard because he finds himself thinking of Jay a bit more than even the job demands. One phone call from Jay sets off a chain of events in both their  life's and they both have some home truths to face regarding how they play the game of their future.

 

Here at Obsidianbookshelf.com, I enjoyed reading The Nest. In my opinion, though, the story is more compelling as a coming-of-age tale than a romance. I would have recommended dropping the less-interesting viewpoint of Brendan (even though we'd lose the funny and touching scene where he retrieves Nico from school) and reducing him to another element in Jay's life as Jay grows into his identity as a gay man.

 Obsidianbookshelf.com

 

I read this book a few days ago and to be honest I was going to give the review a miss, but yesterday I saw that Val from Obsidian bookshelf did a review of the book and following her links I found that Kassa also had a review up of this book – I mention both because this book and their review highlight one of the reason why I love blogging – it’s the share and contradiction and contrary nature of why we love or hate the books we do.

This is my first book by this author and I got stuck in right away, for a few reasons.  I thought the review from both ladies were spot on and as a reviewer  I could see the plus and minuses there. However as a  reader I probably would put it somewhere not on the top of my list to buy.

So I am going to give my take on this book as a reader – I live on the side of the pond where this was set, and normally that should not make a difference, but with this book I literally fell in love in with everything about it and the setting is the biggest draw..

 

The story itself is rather light even though it tackles some big issues with great potential. There is the main character of Jay who is struggling with two jobs, three kids, and no time for a life himself. Complicating matters is the oldest girl, Jess, who is rebelling in a heavy goth phase and getting into bad company. Both Jay and Jess get involved in some difficult situations involving drugs and violence. On a positive note, none of these issues are depressing or bring down the light, easy flow and pace to the book. On the negative side is that none of these issues are fully fleshed out. Each is hinted out briefly and eventually pseudo-resolved but none are really given the time, attention, and depth they deserve. Their potential is barely skimmed with the easy handed manner in which they are treated. This story is filled with enough material for a much longer book and it’s disappointing that the choice was made to keep the story light and short.

Kassa © Live Journal

 

Highlights

Setting - Wiley got this aspect of THE NEST spot on.  I have not read much romance book set on one of  the estates of Great Britain. These estates  operate on the basis of  “I will support you until I cannot” and this applies to the law, social service even to the man that you just robbed – yup it is an insulated setting and if you are in you are in, however a stranger stands out like a sore thumb and the law is never trusted – even if the law is one of their own. Otherwise know as sink estate Jay would be the exception rather than the norm with his attitude towards his family and his life in general.

The language of this book was also another plus for me – I felt like I was there, the pub, the supermarket with it’s ever watchful supervisor as well as the dialogue between Jay and his siblings. Very descriptive word were used and how the author make note of the small thing was really insightful.

The interaction between Jason and his sibling are one of the more memorable moment for me. Not only was Jay’s two younger siblings curious and lively, but as young as they were they understood the ramifications of not letting on that they were living in a house by themselves. Then there was the older of the three Jess, a teenager going through a Goth phase and lippy with it as well -  I thought that area was nicely done.

The books was a little more than a coming of age story because Jay’s life has he had known it so far – has given him a wealth of experience that most people living their whole lives might never get to go through. Sexually that's another matter and he has made a conscious decision to keep the family together so he was prepared to sacrifice something's.

Social and economic issue were touched on as well – Jay and his siblings missing mother, dodging social services, a neglected community including the elderly and of course the community being able to socialise with the law despite the fact that they didn’t trust them. I liked the mix bag of issues that gel together to not only push the book along but cover up a few grey areas.

Wiley added a nice touch with how she introduce the class situation, between the Police and the residents, between  Brendan and his love interest and also with the introduction of Brendan's mother.

The books is told from a third person point of view- so at some point I got Jay’s and other point I got Brendan. This worked for me because Jay’s voice is the voice of the person trying to make ends meet, the person trying to hold it together and the person that knows he only has himself to get them through it all.

Brendan's voice is a bit more educated  and confirmed by the fact that he has a degree – so his scenes were more open minded, not crafty or underhanded but he could be objective and realistic about a situation where Jay could not as he has never been off the estate and has an insulated view of life. Nice mix I thought.

I particularly like the fact that there was a certain moral value to these people, things like “your mama is a slag’ is never spoken in front of the kiddies and the fact that Jay was very conscious about how far he went with Brendan in his home is also something of note..  

There was no sexual scenes and this was also a good call by the author.

Lowlight

Quite a few of the meatier issues were never developed fully - some I was not fussed about and  I was realistic enough to know that a book of this length could only develope only so much. However there were a few that were cut off a bit too quickly.

Brendan’s relationship with one of the ambulance staff  Rowan was so stilted – I just never got the connection, as well as I never particularly care for him either…

THE NEST had a definite old school feel to it, – but it was like two world meeting somewhere in the middle for me. This was reflected in how the police regarded the residents of the estate and the police car being called a panda, that is certainly not a modern term more late 70’s -early 80’s  – on the other hand there is Brendan’s and Rowans open sexuality that is definately a modern thing – because in the 70’s there was no way neither Brendan, Rowan nor Jay could be open about their sexuality on a sink estate.

 

Bottom Line

If there is one book that fits the bill for a decent discussion this would be it. I came across this book on Goodreads and not alot of complimentary things is said about it – for me that's like waving the red flag. On the AMP site the book is marketed as a contemporary and it is such – no smut not even a little bit.

From the bio Ms. Wiley is from Canada but her grasp of the estate life and the chain reaction of “the system” is so spot on and clear and that makes this book a top read for me – if this book is written from research, it was wonderfully done. I enjoyed this author style and her voice – it’s full of hope but riddled with realities that was a nice balance for me.

When I clicked the last page on this book – I genuinely thought, bloody hell that was some book. It would have been my lose if I had never read this book.

 

Please follow the links to Kassa and Val (obsidian Bookshelf) . Val does a brilliant job of rewriting the blurb and Kassa does a detail review of the book and highlights some really good point in this book.  

 

10 Speak To Me:

Chris on 3 December 2009 at 16:17 said...

Hmm. Plus it seems like I've read several books with the same basic "keeping the younger siblings together and away from social services" plot line, such as Collision Course.

Blodeuedd on 3 December 2009 at 18:30 said...

You do keep tempting me with these books, are you trying to tell me something ;)

Smokinhotbooks on 3 December 2009 at 19:27 said...

EH you make a valid point, I don't know if I would have read a book with poor reviews - if a lot of other readers have given the book a bad grade, I probably would pass. But, there have been times before I read a book that I really liked it and was surprised at all the bad reviews. I guess, bottom line, I need to read it for myself.

Great Review!

Val on 4 December 2009 at 01:08 said...

Great review, E.H., and thank you for the mention. I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of the book now that I've got your British perspective on it. The setting felt very realistic to me even though I wasn't familiar with location or culture. Like that Quiz Night at the pub -- I first ran across that concept in a Graham Joyce book, and it seemed very place-specific, and it was interesting to encounter it again in this book. I'm glad you liked my re-write of the blurb. I'm getting a bit obsessed with blurbs, ha, ha!

Erotic Horizon on 4 December 2009 at 02:14 said...

@Chris

I agree I have also read a few books with siblings fightng to stay together..

The thing that capture me in this - is the how clear Ms. Wiley got the Brit aspect and the cultural differences...

Has to be read to feel...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 4 December 2009 at 02:15 said...

@Blo

Always dear always - this one has a nice mix to it...

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 4 December 2009 at 02:19 said...

@K.C.

I find reviews to be subjective and only after a long while am I able to really trust a reviewer to say I will not read that book based on his/her opine...

That said - I look at all books as TBR and sometimes a blurb or just something just calls out to me.

With this book it was the reviews that were at the extreme ends of the rating scale...

I am at the end that really love it..

I am glad I read it..

E.H>

Erotic Horizon on 4 December 2009 at 02:35 said...

@Val..

Thanks you ... this book falls into the situational category, you have to know the layout to really appreciate where this book is coming from and alot of the book needs some "British perspective" to be really appreciated.

Good mention of the Pub quiz, that as well as the little Indian girl not wanting to talk to a white boy for fear of her parents seeing - then there was the "approach" of the police - not scenes you would could fit into any town in the world - these are definite Brit.

I am pleased you and Kassa gave the book an objective look rather than a subjective one - some things are brilliantly done in THE NEST wether you live here yes or no and those positive needed to be highlighted..

E.H>

PD Singer on 7 December 2009 at 23:39 said...

Hi, I am so glad you enjoyed this book, because I did, too. I think the marketing suffered, because anyone who picked it up expecting smoking hot sex was in for a disappointment, but anyone who read hoping for plot and substance had a good time. That may be part of the problem over on Goodreads.

I expected Jess to bring disaster on them all before the book was done (more than she did) and I truly wanted to smack the mother! The story pulled me in and kept me there. I didn't spot era-specific wording because I had recently read "Spike Island" and all the slang was still rattling in my head.

Erotic Horizon on 8 December 2009 at 09:29 said...

@PD...

I certinly enjoyed this book - I cannot imagine where people got the idea this was erotic/heavy romance sort of book...

I am glad I read it however...and I agee, plot and substance was definatly there..

Jess reminds me alot of my sister -i feared she wouldn't make it through the teenage years.... that girl was lippy..

My dad was a fireman so I recognized the term Panda, that one jumped right out at me...

This book will be getting a few reread from me before it goes on the shelf..

Thanks for coming by...

E.H>