Here’s an outcome that I didn’t expect: a novel about children who spontaneously combust turns out to be completely heartwarming. Nothing to See Here is bursting with fresh humor, cheeky charm and surprising emotion. While the premise of Kevin Wilson’s newest novel sounds too far-fetched and bizarre to work, it does. Really well.
Best friends Lillian and Madison parted ways years ago after a scandal forced Lillian to leave the elite boarding school that they both attended. They’ve only been pen pals since, but their bond remains. Out of the blue, Madison reaches out to Lillian, and offers her a temporary job as governess of her two stepchildren. Since Madison’s husband is a politician who’s consistently in the public eye, he needs to keep up appearances. That includes NOT advertising the fact that the children from his first marriage burst into flames when they’re upset. Since Madison (who has skeletons of her own) has little going for her, she accepts the position, and the two BFFs are reunited. Lillian then moves into separate quarters on the grounds of Madison’s mansion, and immediately takes on Fire Kids Bessie and Roland.
It’s this relationship that stole my heart. With patience and honesty, the three broken souls come together to find solace in one another. The resulting relationship between Lillian, Bessie and Roland is precious. All three wear their hearts right on their sleeves, as they’re all keen to keep the flames at bay. Their emotional bond soothes burns and injustices from the past, and they wind up becoming balms for one another’s pain. I loved “watching” them grow to depend on one another, as they evolved into a makeshift family of their own. While the book isn’t immune to its share of anger-inducing moments, the end goal of this story is to heal.
Were there characters in this story that I didn’t like? You bet. One in particular. But overall, the cast of this novel is written with great affection and creativity. I found the characters of The Family Fang (another novel by Wilson) to be just as clever, but I feel that Nothing to See Here is a better read. The people of Family Fang didn’t really leave much of a mark on me after I finished that book. That won’t be the case this time.