The Vulnerables by Sigrid Nunez. Novelist Nunez is probably best known for National Book Award-winning The Friend, about a woman who deals with her grief over the death of her best friend while burdened with the unwanted Great Dane - also traumatized - he has left behind. In The Vulnerables, Nunez's main character also deals with grief (of a different kind) and an unexpected animal in her life (a bird instead of a dog). The setting is New York City at the outset of the Covid lockdown, where an older woman agrees to house-sit for a friend of a friend and take over care of the home's macaw from a college student who has split the scene. Naturally, the irresponsible student returns, and the three unlikely housemates must deal with the pandemic and evolving relationships with each other. Nunez's writing is ruminative and sometimes surprisingly humerous as she leads her group of "vulnerables" through fears of isolation, exposure to illness, and learning to care for each other.
In its starred review, Kirkus wrote, "Nunez's subject is the core business of being alive: the tenuous beauty of human connection, the nature of memory, the purpose of writing, the passage of time. . .the result is almost arrestingly straightforward. Spare and understated and often quite funny, the experience is less like reading fiction than like eavesdropping on someone else's brain. . . .[The Vulnerables] itself is strangely, sweetly hopeful."