Twelve-year-old John Fischer Jr., or "Little John" as he’s always been known, is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business, clearing brush for Mr. King, the wealthy owner of a chain of Texas dollar stores, when he hears a beautiful song that transfixes him. He follows the melody and finds, not a bird, but a young girl sitting in the branches of a tall sycamore tree.
There’s something magical about this girl, Gayle, especially her soaring singing voice, and Little John’s friendship with Gayle quickly becomes the one bright spot in his life, for his home is dominated by sorrow over his sister’s death and his parents’ ever-tightening financial difficulties.
But then Mr. King draws Little John into an impossible choice—forced to choose between his family’s survival and a betrayal of Gayle that puts her future in jeopardy.
Inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, Nightingale's Nest is an unforgettable novel about a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders and a girl with the gift of healing in her voice.
This is one of those amazing children’s books that kids will love and, when they go back to it as an adult, they will see so much more in it than they did when they were younger. All ages will appreciate it. I think I would have loved it as a child and I know I loved it as an adult - mostly because magical realism is my favorite.
As an adult, I thought, “How could this kid do that?!” However, I knew that I made bad choices as a kid. These were learning experiences for Little John. He just had one after another, after another, after another. He and all of the other characters grew in an interesting way, and I even loved how bad the bad guy was. (Of course, my favorite was Gayle.)
The setting was fantastic, too. It felt like the dustbowl to me, but it was present day.
I hope Nightingale’s Nest wins an award, because it’s definitely well done. I know it’s a contender!