Lillian and Madison were inseparable friends at their elite boarding school until Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal. Ten years later, 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.
Good Lord, I can’t believe how good this book is. I know you’re supposed to begin book reviews with subtlety and a nod to storytelling’s past and the long literary tradition that the book has managed to hook itself onto. But Nothing to See Here defies an entry like that because it’s wholly original. It’s also perfect ... I’m sure I’m supposed to wonder what the fire disease is a metaphor for: It’s something that makes children unsuitable for the public. Or it’s our shameful past? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It’s so bonkers and works so well that it only occurred to me to wonder this while I was writing this review ... The star of the book is Lillian, the most interesting and gratifying narrator of a novel I’ve read in years...I’ve never seen a female character like this (though I’ve seen some wannabes). It was astonishing to read. It’s rare to find a narrator like this because Lillian isn’t someone who would ever narrate a book; she’d find telling her own story a stupid pursuit ... the book is also filled with great beauty ... an unassuming bombshell of a novel that appears to be about female friendship—and here I’m angry all over again that a man has given us the most subtle and poignant depiction of female friendship that I’ve read in a few years, Ferrante novels aside—but is actually about our responsibilities toward the people we care for and about. Wilson writes with such a light touch that it seems fairly impossible for the book to have a big emotional payoff. But there is, and that’s the brilliance of the novel—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.
There’s hardly a sentence in Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here that feels like anything you’ve read before; that’s how fresh his voice is, and how willfully, wonderfully bizarre the book’s plot ... Wilson unfurls all this from Lillian’s point of view: witty, confiding, breezily profane. And tender, too ... That the supernatural elements of Nothing feel so right is a testament to Wilson’s innate skill as a storyteller. But it’s the humanity in his words, and in All This, that stays: the unmistakable tenor of real life, too ludicrous not to be true.
... a giddily lunatic premise, one that author Kevin Wilson grounds with humor and deadpan matter-of-factness. Told in Lillian’s refreshingly unfiltered and a-touch-crude voice, the story makes a pair of spontaneously combusting children seem plausible ... Wilson’s observational humor is riotous in its specificity, his descriptions as generous as fistfuls of Halloween candy at the best house on the block ... Even when Lillian first sees Bessie catch fire, the writing dazzles as much as the girl ... But what dazzles most are the warmly rendered dynamics of an ad hoc, dysfunctional family that desperately wants to work.