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Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
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Nothing to See Here (original 2019; edition 2019)

by Kevin Wilson (Author)

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9997115,179 (4.04)52
Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. Then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they've barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison's twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their carer. However, there's a catch- the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it's the truth. Thinking of her dead-end life at home, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other-and stay cool-while also staying out of the way of Madison's buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her. Couldn't this be the start of the amazing life she'd always hoped for?… (more)
Member:thom.fresneau
Title:Nothing to See Here
Authors:Kevin Wilson (Author)
Info:Ecco (2019), 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (2019)

  1. 00
    How To Be Safe by Tom McAllister (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both feature strong, yet prickly women as main characters and an off-beat, off-center way of seeing the world.
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» See also 52 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
This book was a quiet, bright star in my reading year. It had so many wonderful pieces that the author wove together to create a beautiful book.

The language in the book was fantastic! It really stood out. It was beautiful, emotional, and funny all at the same time. It whispered an underlying theme of acceptance and love. This book will stay with me for a long time!

If you are looking for an action packed book, this is not your story. There is not much going on in the book, but the development of the characters and the description of the setting were exceptional.

I would recommend this book to anyone! ( )
  hilarymichelle001 | Apr 6, 2021 |
Life kinda sucks for Lilian. As a young girl she knew she didn’t have a great start in life with an unknown father and a mother who entertained a series of “uncles”. To get anywhere she would have to do things herself. Fortunately she was both smart and resourceful. And she really enjoyed playing basketball. It was the former traits that she put to use in secretly excelling at school, so much so that she got offered a scholarship place at the Iron Mountain academy for girls, a “good” school that would be her stepping stone to a life elsewhere. There she met Madison, fell hard for her, and played basketball with her (Lilian as point guard and Madison as a towering, but incredibly beautiful, centre). Madison was not a scholarship student. Just the opposite. She came from money. Big money. And when Madison got caught with coke in her desk drawer, her big money father swooped in to save her. He did this by convincing Lilian’s mom, with his big money, to take the fall for Madison, which inevitably meant that Lilian would be kicked out of Iron Mountain and her big plan for getting away from her disappointing childhood would not be realized.

Some years later Lilian receives an offer from Madison. She wants Lilian, whom she still describes as her best friend, to come join her and serve as governess or nanny or whatever to her twin step-children, Bessie and Roland. Madison, of course, has everything she’s ever wanted in life — a wealthy and important husband, a beautiful son, Timothy, and an outside shot at eventually moving into the White House. But her husband’s children from his first marriage are “problem” children. However, their problem is unique. They periodically burst into the flames. Not to worry. It doesn’t harm them. But it does harm everything else they are around. It seems to happen when they are upset or angry or excessively emotional. And with their mother having killed herself, it is now necessary for Madison’s husband to bring the children back within his household, or at least a purposefully constructed safe guest house out back. Madison is inviting Lilian to take on the task of shepherding these children, of keeping them safe, and of putting out the flames if they light up. What could go wrong?

Kevin Wilson has a knack for high concept stories. Sometimes they are so high concept that the setup alone requires most of the novel. And setups like that rarely deliver in the long run. Here, however, he has the great benefit of having a central character, Lilian, who is just weird enough to take this situation in stride and believe that she can do something about it. It’s an opportunity for growth, for exploring the sometimes rocky notions we have of family, and for love in various forms to go through a bit of a trial by fire. I liked it. Not earth-shatteringly brilliant, but definitely an enjoyable read. And I especially like the characters of Lilian and her charges, Bessie and Roland. If they can survive their childhoods, we all can.

Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Apr 3, 2021 |
I was very engrossed in this book and I felt connected to the characters. I enjoyed it all the way to the end. Not sure what about the ending fell short for me. Maybe it was too abrupt? I wasn't expecting a total resolution to all the issues, but I guess I was expecting something more. ( )
  carolfoisset | Mar 24, 2021 |
Outlandish storyline hilariously read by Marin Ireland. Dysfunction is the norm for the amusing cast of characters who show surprising moments of tenderness amid the chaos. Lillian's "friendship" with Madison is probably something many can relate to. The "fire children" are complex and interesting, while the stereotyped politician is appropriately flat. Very entertaining read. ( )
  elifra | Mar 11, 2021 |
Recommended by Anne H at Lilly

Lillian met Madison their freshman year at Iron Mountain boarding school, where Lillian was a scholarship student. They were best friends - until cocaine was found in their room, and Lillian took the fall for Madison, and got expelled. Ever since, Lillian has been living a subsistence life, exchanging occasional letters with Madison, living with her mom, and working at two grocery stores. When Madison calls with a vague but interesting job opportunity, Lillian goes - and becomes the "governess" to Madison's husband's twin ten-year-olds, who catch fire when they're upset. The fire doesn't hurt Bessie and Roland, but it's dangerous and destructive for their surroundings; their mother is dead (due to suicide, in a horrifying story that the twins eventually relate to Lillian), and their father, Jasper, has no idea what to do with them. The twins and Lillian are installed in a guest house behind the family mansion where Jasper, Madison, and their son Timothy live; it's important that the twins keep a low profile, because Jasper, a senator, is up for Secretary of State. After his confirmation, as Jasper is giving a speech, Timothy bursts into flames. Madison immediately spins the narrative, but having her own "fire child" makes her more protective of Roland and Bessie, who Jasper was planning to send away to a facility. Lillian, ultimately, is allowed to keep the children.

Lillian and Madison's friendship is complicated by wealth and classism, and Bessie and Roland are damaged more by their upbringing than by their combustible nature. In the end, Lillian and the twins get a fresh start - together.

Quotes

I knew that whatever I chose would be the wrong thing. (40)

A lot of times when I think I'm being self-sufficient, I'm really just learning to live without the things that I need. (45)

...my imagination, which made life tolerable, needed to be kept a secret from the rest of the world. But if you keep something hidden away, all tied up, it's hard to summon when you really need it. (54)

Maybe raising children was just giving them the things you loved most in the world and hoping that they loved them, too. (139)

"People don't care about anyone but themselves. They don't notice anything. They are never looking at what's interesting. They're always looking at themselves." (Lillian to Bessie, 162)

...we were in very different circles of the blast radius of this good news. (197)

You took care of people by not letting them know how badly you wanted your life to be different. (206)

"They know he's important, Madison. They don't think they're important." (211) ( )
  JennyArch | Mar 9, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kevin Wilsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ireland, MarinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Northeast, ChristianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saltzman, AllisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ann Patchett and Julie Barer
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In the late spring of 1995, just a few weeks after I'd turned twenty-eight, I got a letter from my friend Madison Roberts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. Then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they've barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help. Madison's twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their carer. However, there's a catch- the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it's the truth. Thinking of her dead-end life at home, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other-and stay cool-while also staying out of the way of Madison's buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her. Couldn't this be the start of the amazing life she'd always hoped for?

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