Nothing to See Here

Nothing to See Here

by Kevin Wilson

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Overview

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

“I can’t believe how good this book is.... It’s wholly original. It’s also perfect.... Wilson writes with such a light touch.... The brilliance of the novel [is] that it distracts you with these weirdo characters and mesmerizing and funny sentences and then hits you in a way you didn’t see coming. You’re laughing so hard you don’t even realize that you’ve suddenly caught fire.” —Taffy Brodesser-Akner, author of Fleishman is in Trouble, New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang, a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with a remarkable ability.

Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But 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 caretaker. 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, the life that has consistently disappointed her, 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—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?

With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062913487
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/29/2019
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 275
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kevin Wilson is the author of the novels The Family Fang, a New York Times bestseller adapted into an acclaimed film starring Nicole Kidman, and Perfect Little World; as well as the story collections Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, and Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons.

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Nothing to See Here 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 3 hours ago
There could not be a worse book!! Stupid story line. In Stephen Kings hands, it may fly, but I found it mundane and idiotic. Very poorly written. Do not waste your valuable reading time!
Anonymous 3 hours ago
There could not be a worse book!! Stupid story line. In Stephen Kings hands, it may fly, but I found it mundane and idiotic. Very poorly written. Do not waste your valuable reading time!
Shoeguru 17 days ago
This is one of the most original books that I have read in some time. Lillian and Madison attend a boarding school together for a year and form a close friendship, until Lillian takes the fall for drugs that Madison had in her possession. Madison is from a wealthy family and has an image to uphold. They maintain their friendship through letters until one day Madison wants to see Lillian at her mansion. It turns out that she wants Lillian to take care of her stepchildren, but there is a catch. The two children are twins that catch on fire. I really enjoyed this book and thought that the character development was spot on. This book was so imaginative and I would love to read more from this author in the future. Thanks for the ARC, Net Galley.
JCNash 19 days ago
Having read Kevin Wilson's Perfect Little World a couple years ago and not being crazy about it, I was interested to see what he could do with a different story, and I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. The concept of raising two children who break out in flames, while intriguing, could have become a novelty to the story, something performative, but Wilson executed it so seamlessly that children that catch fire feel as natural to the overall plot as the theme of having difficult parents. The main character, Lillian is imperfect but even better for it and I just loved her perspective on the world and people around her. It's rare that you find a male author that can write such dynamic female characters, but Kevin Wilson is one. In fact, every character, from little Timothy to intimidating Carl is written so well. I might have liked a little bit more from Jasper to show there's a human in there somewhere, but maybe we're not supposed to think that. If you enjoy family drama that is both sad and heartwarming with a touch of make believe, I definitely recommend this novel. Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins for my free review copy. All opinions are my own.
ZOMGPWN 22 days ago
I'm not really sure what I was expecting from a book about children who spontaneously combust when they are upset... but it sure wasn't an impeccably written, modern literary tour de force that hit me right smack in the feels. This is my first experience with Kevin Wilson and consider me a new fan. It's safe to say I've never read anything like this book and it was so out of left field in the best way possible. The word "uproarious" is being used a lot to describe this book, and I can't really get down with that adjective here. Lillian's interactions with Bessie and Roland are hilarious at times and starkly entertaining at others... but the humor is a veneer laid over some very heavy angst, for child and adult alike. The heart of this book lies in Lillian's developing relationship with her wards, as well as her interactions with her former roommate Madison. This book (to me) is about how humans deal with rejection, abandonment and isolation in ways that allow them to stay sane, and the never ending longing that you will find someone who understands your weird (and possibly wonderful) self. When lost, disaffected souls find one another and allow themselves to love and be loved, to trust and be trusted... well, is there anything more beautiful and moving than that? In literature, it's not often I find an example this deeply affecting and emotionally impactful. Since I had never read anything by Mr. Wilson before, about one third through the book I flipped to the back dust jacket fold to see who wrote this thing and was fairly surprised to see it was a man. Maybe this is a sexist thing to say, but I don't usually find that men can write women characters so authentically on this level. It's not just getting the characters of Lillian and Madison so perfect, it's their strange and mercurial relationship from boarding school to adulthood that really impressed me. It wasn't over complicated or needlessly worked over. It just felt authentic in its peculiarity, specificity and quirkiness. They develop their own form of shorthand or subtext that allows them to not only understand each other on a deeper level, but also enables their relationship to endure through events that would unravel many others. It's this same ability to deconstruct and interpret interpersonal relationships that allows Lillian to break through to Bessie and Roland. With their very first interaction being so disastrous and hilarious... the way the relationship develops after takes on an almost heroic flair. Bessie and Roland are basically superhuman in nature and Lillian's ability to cope with them on a psychological, physical, spiritual and practical level is definitely amazing. In the end I just found the relationship between Lillian, Bessie and Roland to be so freaking sweet and adorable, it made me fall in love with this book and these characters. The internal dialogue and the conversational dialogue and both just (to me) so effortlessly authentic and believable that when I was done, I kind of wanted to search for a real physical condition that causes people to burst into flames. It just felt like a real thing to me at that point... like it was reasonable. That really speaks to Kevin Wilson's ability to craft characters and settings. As I said, I went into this book kind of like... "Oh kay..." and I came out of it all "Ohhhhh kay!!" If unconventional, off-the-wall stories with damaged characters appeal to you, take a shot on Nothing To See Here. I really, really dug it
rcahill 24 days ago
Wilson has written an enjoyably quirky novel which exists in our world, but with one slight difference, people can spontaneously combust! The main character, Lillian, was raised by a single mom without money or resources, but her hard work allowed her to earn a scholarship to an elite boarding school. She forms an immediate bond with her roommate Madison, although they have very little in common. After a scandal forces Lillian back into her impoverished life, the girls stay in touch and build two very different lives. Year later, Madison has it all, money, a marriage to a man with political aspirations, and a young son; Lillian on the other hand lives with her mom and works at two grocery stores. However, within her perfect world, Madison has a small problem, two problems actually, in the form of her step-children and she asks Madison to become their nanny. Family dynamics, friendships, and a range of emotions are on display in this book. You will feel a connection with the flawed characters, and as long as graphic language is not an issue, you will enjoy the writing immensely.
Bookyogi 26 days ago
4 1/2 stars, rounding up to 5. Wow, was this a surprise find! I got this in Book of the Month Club, no opinion but that it sounded interesting, and I ended up loving it! Quirky, funny, witty, and heartwarming with just the right bit of sass. Lillian is almost an antihero she is so quietly awesome and unapologetically authentic. I just love this book.
andi22 26 days ago
This is a hard one to rate. I was immediately sucked in but then had to rein my enthusiasm in for disbelief. What?! Children that can set themselves on fire?! BUT... Once I gave in to suspending belief, I happily went along for the ride. Plusses: well-written sometimes laugh out loud humorous descriptions {"...she had a little boy whom she dressed in nautical suits and who looked like an expensive teddy bear that had turned human." highly original, quirky, odd, and ultimately enjoyable. I found Lillian especially believeable--and so too Madison. And Carl was a useful foil. And the relationship between the twins and Lillian--poignant and beautiful [no spoiler alert]. And there was sadness. I found the ending a tad too neat, but it was ok. I didn't much care as I enjoyed the rest of the book. 3.5, rounding up.
RMeckley 30 days ago
This very odd book is getting lots of praise and publicity, but I do not agree with the majority. Lillian tells the story in first-person, which is a problem for me because I do not care for this character. She has had a bit of a rough life, with a cold mother and a thoughtless, self-centered friend. That friend has asked Lillian to take over the care of her two step-children, who have a unique problem - they can set themselves on fire. This unusual plot twist saves the story for me. The twins are strongly-drawn characters, as are the other people. I just could not get into Lillian, so it's only 3 stars from me. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC.
Anonymous 3 months ago
It's not often you read a truly original novel. But this is quirky and compelling in the way that Kafka's Metamorphosis is riveting. Bare outline: prep school dropout gets a phone call ten or fifteen years later from her old roomie, now married to a senator. Seems he is being groomed for higher office and needs a trouble shooter to deal with his two children from a previous marriage who - get this, catch on fire when they're upset. If that sounds ridiculous to you, this book won't be your cup of tea. But if you're intrigued, I recommend this story. It's not polished, but it's honest and real and funny and poignant. I cared about the three misfits- the two kids and their woefully unprepared but fiercely protective temporary guardian. You can read as much symbolism as you like into this story of love and loyalty and family. Thanks to the publishers and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
LHill2110 3 months ago
Writing: 4 Plot: 4 Characters: 4 Lillian Breaker has a huge chip on her shoulder about rich people, but when the beautiful and very wealthy Madison Roberts springs up out of her distant and checkered past asking for help, Lillian goes running. The job? To care for Madison’s husband’s children from a previous marriage. Sounds simple enough except for the minor detail that these children spontaneously burst into flame when upset. While they are completely unharmed by the fire, everything around them, including their clothing, is torched. And an additional detail — Madison’s husband Jasper is a U.S. senator under consideration for Secretary of State, so discretion is critical. What sounds like a silly premise is actually a cover for an intriguing, humorous, and psychologically interesting book. Lillian is an angry, bitter, person who insists on seeing the worst in people (and usually doesn’t have to look far to find it). The children’s fire bursts are an external manifestation of a toxicity that Lillian feels internally. As she helps the children deal with their own anger and bitterness towards the hypocritical, self-serving man who is ostensibly their father, she also gains a deeper understanding of herself. Hugely enjoyable. The writing is excellent — tight, sardonic, and hugely streaked with wit. I found it much better than I expected from the marketing blurb and now plan to go back and read one of his previous novels — I’ll start with The Family Fang. Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on November 5th, 2019.
KarenfromDothan 3 months ago
Living in her mother’s attic and working as a cashier, life hasn’t turned out the way Lillian once hoped. There was one year that stood out in her largely disappointing life. It was the year she was given a scholarship to an elite boarding school. Despite being from two very different social classes, Lillian and her roommate, Madison, became close friends. Years pass, and the two continue to exchange letters until one day out of the blue Madison offers Lillian a job working as a governess for her two step-children. There’s a catch though. The children can spontaneously combust. Holy moly, what an original idea! This is such a lovely, endearing story about love and family, power and ambition, told with a wry sense of humor. For me it was sad, but ultimately uplifting and full of hope. I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Wilson speak last month where he talked about this, his latest novel. He was an amazing speaker to the delight of all who were there. If you get a chance to see him on tour, I would definitely recommend that you do so. And, pick up this book, you’ll be glad you did.
KimberlyKESQ 3 months ago
"Nothing To See Here" is the first book I've read by Kevin Wilson, but it will not be my last. Lillian and Madison meet at a prestigious school and become best friends despite the huge disparity in their backgrounds. More than a decade letter, Madison, now the wife of a powerful senator, contacts Lillian, still living with her mother, with an intriguing job opportunity. Lillian accepts the offer and becomes the governess for the senator's children from a prior marriage. The children, Roland and Bessie, are afflicted with an unusual condition-they spontaneously catch on fire when agitated. I really enjoyed this book and wish it had been longer as it only took me about two hours to read. The premise is definitely unusual (kids who catch on fire?) but the author makes it work beautifully. The story is both touching and humorous and explores issues such as privilege and power, acceptance, love, and friendship. The characters are well developed and realistic. I found myself actually caring about what happens to Bessie and Roland. This is not a dark story about children with supernatural abilities (like Carrie or Stranger Things). It is a lighthearted feel-good story about being different and finding your place in the world.
jnmegan 3 months ago
Kevin Wilson’s most recent novel, Nothing to See Here, is a wonderfully eccentric offering that will appeal to misfits and outcasts of all flavors-flaming or otherwise. Lillian, the books first-person narrator, is a wholly original character whose sardonic wit and self-deprecation are instantly endearing and compelling. She is asked by her wealthy and glamorous friend to come work as a caretaker for her husband’s children by a previous marriage. His previous wife has died, and the twins are now being placed into his unwilling custody. It seems that the ten-year-olds are a bit of a burden, since they burst into flames whenever they become agitated or upset. Acknowledging that this attribute may complicate his prospects for becoming Secretary of State, it is incumbent upon Lillian to keep them hidden from the public view but still appropriately cared for. Lillian has a history of sacrificing for her friend, and her deep love for Madison (and lack of any other prospects) compels her to take on the position despite her lack of experience or ability. Lillian’s propensity for mishap and her lackadaisical attitude turn out to be exactly what is needed in this absurd situation, and the novel depicts her attempts in ways both hilarious and touching. Wilson is asking a lot of his readers by requiring them to suspend disbelief with a pair of children that can experience spontaneous combustion while remaining unscathed, but it becomes easy with his skillful guidance. Nothing to See Here is almost cartoonish in its madcap action, and its short length is perfect for a plot that could not be sustained for very long. From start to finish, the book is laugh-out-loud enjoyable as well as thought-provoking. At its heart, Wilson’s novel entertainingly addresses an issue that all parents face: No one really knows what they are doing when rearing children, and sometimes the best approach is to just experiment with the best of intentions-trying not to self-immolate along the way. Thanks to the author, ECCO and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
BettyTaylor 3 months ago
This book took off slowly as the backstory of Lillian and Madison’s friendship is laid out. Madison grew up in the lap of luxury, while Lillian came from a low-income home, daughter of a single mother. Lillian received a scholarship to study at an exclusive school and had Madison as her roommate. Now years later Madison, the wife of Tennessee Senator Jasper Roberts, asks Lillian to be the governess for Jasper’s children by his second wife. But there is a big catch here – the children have a tendency to burst into flames when agitated. I almost gave up on the book because the premise of “fire children” began to seem really corny. But about a quarter of the way into the book the children took stage and everything changed. At that point I was sucked into the story as these children quickly wormed their way into my heart. Lillian moves into the Roberts’ guesthouse with the 10-year-old twins Jasper and Bessie. Author Kevin Wilson made these unusual children distrustful of others, vulnerable and adorable. Lillian is sassy, as socially inept as the children, and not at all impressed with riches. She can relate to these children and is overwhelmed by the unexpected maternal feelings she develops for them. I grew to like the character Carl, Senator Roberts’ gofer, and absolutely loved Mary, the Roberts’ housekeeper. Nothing fazed that lady. The power of politics is prominent in the story, but the power of love is stronger. This is a heartbreaking, yet heartwarming and oftentimes humorous story. Thank you HarperCollins for the opportunity to read and review this delightful book.
MKF 4 months ago
This is an unusual and entertaining novel that surprised me in so many good ways. Lillian's frenemy Madison is now the wife of a US Senator and she's got a problem she wants Lillian to solve for her. Seems Madison's husband Jasper had two children by his second wife- Bessie and Roland- who spontaneously burst into flames. It doesn't hurt them but it does make a mess of things wherever they are. Now their mom has died and Jasper has to take them in so Madison hires Lillian as their "governess". Lillian has a strong voice and she's also determined to make things better for the kids. She knows nothing about children but she figures out quickly that they need help on the inside as well as the flame proof clothes. Madison remains a shadowy Lady Benificent figure but she's really not that nice, is she? How Lillian, Bessie, and Roland navigate their new reality to become a family is a treat. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Interesting characters, a snarky heroine, and great writing make this an excellent read.
CRSK 4 months ago
Originally I came across this book when I was reading the excerpts in the Buzz Books 2019 Fall / Winter collection of the best stories to look out for in the coming months. It sounded promising, but it took me a while to request this since this is an author I wasn’t familiar with. I’m glad that I did, even more so when I saw the author’s Dedication – ”For Ann Patchett and Julie Barer” having recently spent time in another world courtesy of Ann Patchett. Madison is the daughter of a well-to-do family, and Lillian is a girl born into an impoverished life, both monetarily and in affection. Lillian makes her way to her dorm room alone after her mother drops her off at the esteemed Iron Mountain Girls Preparatory School, cautioning her that she’s about to enter a world for which she’s utterly unprepared. ” As I walked to my dorm, I realized that the other girls didn’t even look at me, and I could tell that it wasn’t out of meanness. I don’t think they even saw me; their eyes had been trained since birth to recognize importance. I wasn’t that.” They become friends almost as soon as they meet when Lillian arrives, but there is a sense of an uneven nature to their friendship. Madison takes Lillian under her wing, and just as easily, places her under the guillotine when it serves her purpose, and Lillian ends up expelled from the only chance she’s ever had to escape the life she was born into. Time passes, fifteen years, and although they’ve communicated through mail periodically, but not regularly. And then Madison contacts her, asking her to come visit their estate, without stating the job opportunity she has in mind – a job as governess, caring for, watching over her husband Jaspar’s twins by his now-deceased ex-wife. Bessie and Roland are ten-years-old, and are not like most ten-year-olds, they have an exceptionally unfortunate condition, which seems to “flare up.” When annoyed, agitated, angry they seem to, well, umm… spontaneously combust. Most unfortunate. But, the problems directly created are less the issue that concerns Madison and Jasper, they are more concerned that Jasper’s political future will be impacted should other become aware of this information. Since it’s impossible to determine when and where these incidences might occur, it’s considered “best for all” if Lillian lives in a “guest cottage” on their massive property with the twins, with the added charge of making sure she also handles the twins home schooling. Since Jasper, excuse me, Senator Roberts, was being vetted for a potential position in a large white home on Pennsylvania Avenue. Of course, it would never do for a prominent political figure, especially with so many eyes on him, to have children who could create awkward moments – especially those involving flames sparked by a moment of anger. The publicity would ruin him, imagine the tweets generated! I enjoyed this one so much more than I anticipated, and appreciated the light touch of dark humour that is woven throughout this story, as well as the themes of power and money in politics, as well as friendship, abandonment and, most of all, the power of love. Many thanks for the ARC provided by HarperCollins Publishers / Ecco