Holy shit. You know when you finish a book and you have this adrenaline rush because you just enjoyed a book so wholly that it sparks something inside of you? Nothing to See Here did that for me.
Kevin Wilson did something cool here. He took a realistic setting and added a bit of magic to it. Not your typical spell/witchcraft magic, but well… kids that spontaneously combust without causing harm to themself.
This story is about a woman who gets a call from her childhood best friend. Lillian rushes to Madison’s house for a business proposition. Madison’s husband is in the Senate and expecting his career to further even more. He just has one little problem: yep, his kids ignite when they’re angry. Not the usual tantrum, but full fledged flames. You can see how this may be concerning to a man who wants to go far into politics. Lillian is asked to be a “governess” to these children, to keep them out of the public eye, and to learn more about their… uh, combustion issues.
I can’t think of much I didn’t love about this story, and the few flaws I originally saw were completely diminished by time I finished this book. The humor is blunt and peppered with casual profanity and the realism of the story plays off so well with the abnormality at hand. The theme of this book showcases that humans are not perfect. A lot of us are fucking weird, as Lillian would say. These children have been taught all of their lives that something is wrong with them. There’s a twist at the end of the story that really just drives a point home: we all feel weird, we all feel a bit unsafe, we all are messed up in some way… and when we realize that we aren’t alone in that, we are able to find our power and our peace. We want someone to understand us.
A few more themes I really enjoyed in this book:
A. Parents aren’t perfect. Everything you do will affect your kid. Whether it is sending them off to boarding school, like characters in this book. Or treating them too much like adults, or ignoring their needs and wants. You can screw up your kids by being too protective. No parent is perfect. The most well intentions will shape your child, good or bad. Thoughtlessness will shape your child. Selfishness. Unselfishness. Which leads to…
B. When you own the role of parenting, you accept that your life is not wholly your own anymore. You don’t get to do everything for your own self interest anymore. A good parent gives up a part of themself to make room for another human’s best interest. It is scary, but it is rewarding.
C. Casual sexuality. Lillian never has to proclaim her sexuality to the readers. She is who she is. She clearly likes women and isn’t interested in male companionship. The author doesn’t see the need to make this the forefront of the story, it is sewn throughout. Not hiding, not the main focus. Just part of Lillian. We are who we are, without any explanation needed.
Kevin Wilson brought laughter bubbling out of me and filled my heart with some warmth. Nothing to See Here has sad times accompanied by good times. Nothing is perfect within this book, and that made it a perfect book TO me.