I have this thing with Facebook: I can’t decide if I love it or I hate it. I love the fact that I get to keep in touch with people I probably wouldn’t otherwise, but I hate the fact that I’m kind of addicted to it.
I resisted signing up with Facebook for quite a while. I’m a private person, and I couldn’t understand the need to share pieces of myself with the wider world. I was also worried that my students (since I was a teacher at that time) would find my profile. That was a line I wasn’t willing to cross.
Ultimately I relented and opened an account. I’m glad I did. I love seeing pictures of my cousins’ kids and hearing about the activities and achievements of my friends. I’m careful about my security settings and have been particular about who I’ve added as friends. But here’s the thing: I check it every day and I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the amount of information that my friends are willing to reveal about themselves.
I’ve heard about ugly divorces and new loves; illnesses and pet peeves. And then there are the drunken posts and rants. I even had a friend share a picture of her vomit. And on Father’s Day, I read at least twenty or so dedications to the “best dad in the world” who “is loved more than he knows.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind sharing my feelings. I just prefer to be more selective about it. My dad knows that I think he is the best dad in the world…because I tell him face to face. He doesn’t need me to pledge my affection in a public forum.
Melody Plumb’s dad, in Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s new novel The Nest, had the best of intentions when he established a trust fund for his four children. It was “a modest nest egg,” he explained to them, “conservatively invested, dispersed in time for [them] to enjoy but not exploit.” Leonard Plumb Sr. was a self-made man who wanted his kids to understand the value of hard work and commitment—he wasn’t going to just hand them their inheritance. Instead, they had to wait until Melody, the baby of the family, turned forty to get their hands on it.
Referred to as “the nest,” all four Plumb children invest their hopes and dreams into the trust. They may not have the money at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spend it prematurely. Melody has her daughters’ universities picked out; Jack has his summer home; Bea has living expenses that her yet-unwritten novel won’t cover; and Leo, well Leo just likes to party…which is exactly what crushes the siblings’ plans.
A night of drug-fueled debauchery lands Leo—and his young female companion—in the hospital. Unbeknownst to the rest of the siblings, “the nest” is used as a payoff to avoid being sued. And just like that, the trust fund is drained.
With their dreams and financial security destroyed by Leo’s selfishness, his siblings meet to formulate a plan. But demanding repayment isn’t so simple. Old tensions and resentment flare back to life and now the siblings must decide, once and for all, the sources of their own contentment.
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. The Nest is her first novel. Ecco, 2016.