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.