Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Books I've Read: Nothing to See Here


It was the cover that attracted me to this one.  And then I read the description and it sounded sufficiently bonkers that I had to read it.

Lillian is kind of aimless, the kind of smart girl who has become trapped by her small town life.  In high school she had a shot at getting away, but it was never fulfilled.  The only good thing to have come out of her short stint at an exclusive boarding school was her friendship with Madison.  Lillian doesn't really think Madison owes her anything, but there is a sense that she took the fall for her friend.

So when Madison calls to ask for Lillian's help, she has nothing holding her back.  And she has to admit she's curious about her friend's husband's kids from his first marriage.  Surely Madison is pulling her leg.  Kids don't spontaneously catch on fire!

Yet these kids do.  It doesn't hurt them - they just burst into flame if upset or agitated or otherwise emotionally volatile.  Unfortunately furnishings, clothes, buildings etc do not do so well around kids afflicted in this way.

So Lillian finds herself becoming caretaker to these human torches, disturbed children who have just lost their mother and now find themselves living with a father they barely know and have been told terrible things about for years.  And with a position in government looming, their father has little time for them.

As the summer stretches on, Lillian finds herself beginning to care deeply for her charges and finds a strength within herself that might just change all their lives forever.

This book was kind of beautiful and sad at the same time.  Everything about the world these characters live in seems perfectly normal, except the fact these children burn.  Lillian's relationship with the kids as they learn to trust her feels ver real and honest.  Raising kids - any kids - can be tedious and frustrating and challenging.  Add in the physical danger of caring for kids who can catch fire at a moment's notice and that gets even harder.

Initially too scared to go too far from the house and the pool, Lillian learns to trust the kids the same way they learn to trust her and manages to expand the world in which these kids live.

While basically about the relationships between these children and their caretaker, the book also manages to satirise the very wealthy, politically ambitious through its depiction of Madison and her husband as they do whatever is necessary to ensure the husband's place on Capitol Hill.  Regardless what it might do to the kids.

So I'd recommend this one.  It's poignant and more than a little silly, but I enjoyed it.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

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.

1 comment:

  1. What a bizarre concept. I wonder what gave the author that idea.