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Nothing to See Here

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  24,009 ratings  ·  3,673 reviews
Kevin Wilson’s best book yet—a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable and disturbing abilities

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’
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 29th 2019 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,009 ratings  ·  3,673 reviews

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Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive
Quirky and Heartwarming

Nothing to See Here is about two small children who have the power to spontaneously combust. Yup. Sounds crazy, but Kevin Wilson pulls it off!

The premise is a little odd, but it lured me in and works to examine an undercurrent of themes, including class divisions, the dynamics of friendship, otherness, loneliness, and the power of love.

I love the tone of Nothing to See Here--narrated by Lillian (the caregiver of the fire children), it's dark, emotional, and filled with
“This is weird, Madison. You want me to raise your husband’s fire children.”

i won this through the gr giveaways but i didn’t read it right away—choosing instead to read ARCs of books that were coming out before this one, then delaying it further for my horror-only october bookplan. i thought i had plenty of time before it pubbed because i saw this on the side of the ARC:

and misunderstood it to mean it was pubbing on the 19th of november instead of in november 2019. which i now realize is a
Larry H
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is truly an odd, funny, poignant book about finding a place and people with whom you belong, and how family can spring from the strangest of situations.

"How did people protect themselves? How did anyone keep this world from ruining them?"

Lillian has always accepted that she won’t accomplish much in life. For a brief moment in her teenage years, however, she attended a private high school and befriended Madison, a beautiful but quirky rich girl, and Lillian started to believe she had
This book was a freaking balm on my soul. You have to understand, I have been completely SWAMPED in the waters of Moby Dick and the meandering ramblings of Midnight's Children - I know... WHAT WAS I THINKING?? But this book, folks, this book is short, (darkly) funny, and easily holds your interest. There are no dissertations on whaling to be found here, or a dizzyingly long character list. Never, at any point, did a hopelessness descend on me, or existential questions assault me (will I ever ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprising, entertaining, emotional, original!

Dysfunctional family dynamics, political ambitions, fire-starter kids seem like little Drew Barrymore’s incarnations, not reciprocated, quirky best friend a.k.a nanny’s surprising connection with them, finding her new life purpose.

This book is definitely different fiction you’ve lately read. Lillian doesn’t come from money. She needs to work so hard to deserve a place and prove her value in the society.

She has no father and a problematic, selfish
It takes a lot of skill for an author to write a book about children bursting into flames and do it in a way that makes it not only believable, but endearing. I absolutely loved this quirky, funny, and sweet story.

Lillian hears from Madison, her old friend and roommate, asking for a favor. The two have a checkered history, with Madison being blessed with beauty and wealth, while Lillian, having neither, does Madison’s bidding, getting nothing in return. This time the favor is asking
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-favorites
[4.5] The idea of a plot involving two kids who spontaneously ignite when they get anxious didn't sound appealing to me. But I was wrong. I loved the main character, Lillian, an outsider who is stuck in her life until an old friend calls for her help. I loved the way Wilson portrayed the two very likable kids - who have been unfairly treated by their family because of their unusual ability (or disability).

I was pulled into this novel from the first pages and got up for air only to help prepare
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lillian had "a desire to be superlative...a sterling representative of this backward county"... when she won a scholarship to prestigious Iron Mountain Girls Preparatory School. Lillian and her roommate Madison became fast friends despite the fact that upper crust Madison "...had been raised since birth to recognize importance. [Lillian] was not that." However, Lillian and Madison needed each other. They strived to "tamp down their weirdness." Madison acknowledged that rich people "... had to be ...more

Originally I came across this book when I was reading the excerpts in the Buzz Books 2019 Fall / Winter collection of the best stories to look out for in the coming months. It sounded promising, but it took me a while to request this since this is an author I wasn’t familiar with. I’m glad that I did, even more so when I saw the author’s Dedication – ”For Ann Patchett and Julie Barer” having recently spent time in another world courtesy of Ann Patchett.

Madison is the daughter
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Told in first person, our main character and narrator Lillian travels to see her friend, Madison, who has a job offer for her. It isn't until after she accepts the job as governess to Madison's step-children that Madison tells her the kids burst into flames when they feel angry or frustrated.

The fire children do not make an appearance until 26% (on a Kindle). The first 1-7% is the foundation of Lillian and Madison's relationship. This includes how the met, their school-girl-days, and their
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
10 yr old twins Bessie and Roland have some kind of medical problem that when they get angry or upset.. they spontaneously combust..yes, literally go up in
They were pushed out of their wealthy father’s ancestral mansion along with their mother when they were five years old because he found a new young and beautiful wife.
Now their mother has died and they have to return to their fathers estate and will be cared for by Lillian.. a longtime but distant friend of their stepmothers.
These two poor
This book is a really interesting story about this girl who becomes a nanny for these kids who catch on fire when they get upset. This premise is super unique and I’ve never read anything quite like it. I enjoyed this story and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just not particularly memorable for me. Here’s some thoughts I jotted down after finishing it:

-This book was interesting and sweet but kind of forgettable
-I love that the main character is so sarcastic and awkward,
Anna Luce
4.5 stars

“I had the children. They caught on fire. I had to keep them from catching on fire.”

As soon as I read Kevin Wilson's dedication (“for Ann Patchett”) I had a feeling that I was in for a treat (and I was right).
There was something about Wilson's surrealism that reminded me a bit of Charlie Kaufman's films (in Synecdoche, New York a character moves into a house that is permanently on fire). Comparisons to Wes Anderson would also not be amiss (dysfunctional families + parental
Elyse  Walters
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
The responsible adults in charge needed to come up with a plan.....
....the fire children’s mother died.
*Fire* children - you ask?

read by the ‘outstanding’ Marin Ireland.

Marin Ireland, made this book come ‘alive’!!!!
The ranges in her voice sounded completely different for each character.
She was fantastic with the children’s voices.

The children, ( twins Bessie & Rolan), & Lillian ( unique governess), stole my heart.

Quirky and moving!!!

Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Nothing to see Here could win an Ugliest Cover Ever award but it's still a damn good story. It's witty and clever and fun and I'm glad I was able to put aside my aversion for the cover and read the book. Thanks to all my GR friends who wrote glowing reviews for it and convinced me to read it!
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
The weirdest thing about Nothing to See Here is that, in a novel about spontaneous human combustion, not much happens. Once the wacky premise—fire children! 10-year-olds whose bad moods cause them to go up in literal flames!—has been set up, it isn’t fully exploited. If you’ve spent any time around tweens I’m sure you can think of many, many directions this idea could go, but Wilson seems content to just let the story coast.

These little incendiaries hang out in the pool, bond with their nanny
Carol (Bookaria)
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. It's an engaging and touching novel. Lillian and Madison were roommates in boarding school but they have barely kept in touch since then. Years after, Lillian receives a letter from Madison asking her to become the caregiver of her step children who, by the way, go up in flames at unexpected times.

I thought the premise was a bit weird but once I started reading it absolutely works, the author even makes it believable. What a great and endearing story.

Highly recommend it
Betsy Robinson
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I was an actress in my 20s, I took voice lessons with an old German man named Mr. Jacobi. I was a terrible singer, but it was okay. I wasn't learning to sing. I was learning to use my voice to its full potential. I knew this because one of Mr. Jacobi's favorite things to say after he sat down at the piano and leaned on the first chord was, "We accept here." That meant that no matter what sound I made, it was fine with both of us.

"We accept here." That could be the philosophy expressed by
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where there’s smoke there’s very likely two diminutive fireballs.

Weird, whacky and wonderful! This is about so much more than combustible kids, but to tell you too much would ruin the story that lies within. Imagine that the most unlikely nanny, Maria Von Trapp with a dark side, is charged with taking care of two damaged children ready to ignite at the first sign of emotional stress, throw in political aspirations, untold wealth and you have an unusual story told in the most touching way.

Lark Benobi
Nov 26, 2019 rated it did not like it

Some of you who follow me on GR know that I'm a writer, and a smaller subset of you know that I'm currently looking for an agent for a new novel I've written.

A rejection that I received recently from an agent had this sentence in it: "I just could not make myself believe it." This really puzzled me, as feedback goes, because my new novel is about a woman who unexpectedly gives birth to an owl. In other words, it requires a certain suspension of disbelief.

But after reading Nothing to See
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Sarah Dickinson

I usually like my fiction firmly rooted in reality, so I was nervous about a book featuring children who catch fire when distressed. However, I’m a mother, so I appreciate this metaphor. What parent hasn’t witnessed an epic tantrum where your child starts to resemble the girl from The Exorcist?

Years ago, Lillian, a scholarship kid, and Madison, an heiress, became friends at their Tennessee boarding school. Fast forward to the present day, we find Lillian toiling in
I’m on a great roll with my audible selections! Listening to “Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson, narrated by Marin Ireland was 6 hours and 40 minutes of total joy. Marin Ireland captured the essence of the novel’s narrator, Lillian. In a pitch perfect southern accent full of ennui, Ms. Ireland encapsulates Lillian’s apathy towards life. Ireland also does a fantastic job of giving voice to the other characters.

When the story opens, Lillian has been contacted by her freshman high school
Jessica Woodbury
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, best-2019-arcs
Full disclosure: I have not read any Kevin Wilson books before. They looked kind of like the book versions of Wes Anderson movies, rather pretentious and twee. I have no idea if that is a fair assessment, it is just how they struck me. But the hook of this book got my attention and I thought it would be a good one to dip my toes into. Then I was really shocked by how quickly this book burrowed its way into my heart.

I have had a run of insomnia lately, so I mostly read this book in the middle of
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever seen a child throw a full-on temper tantrum? Pretty unnerving, isn’t it? Now what if that child’s tantrum/anxiety could start a fire? And what if the child’s parents were wealthy and had lofty political aspirations? That would be awkward!

Wilson takes this premise and multiplies it by two—two children with this ability—twins. Madison Billings Roberts has decided to call on an old friend from her days at the Iron Mountain Girls Preparatory School for help when the ten-year-old twins’
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Because I kept fucking up, because it seemed so hard to not fuck up, I lived a life where I had less than what I desired. So instead of wanting more, sometimes I just made myself want even less. Sometimes I made myself believe that I wanted nothing.”

Yep, get use to it. There is a lot of dropping the f bomb in this story and for awhile I, too, was going to drop this story right into my dnf file. But, then thanks to the encouragement of my great book pal, Jan, I continued and was glad that I
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I really enjoyed The Family Fang this year, so when I heard that Kevin Wilson had a new release coming out I made sure to put my name on the library hold list well before pub day to guarantee I’d be at the top of the heap. Now that I’ve finished I have this to say . . . . .

Lillian has a history of bailing Madison out of a jam, so she’s exactly the person who gets called when Madison’s twin stepchildren are in need of a “governess.”
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting premise, but I did not enjoy the writing or characterisation at all. I was curious enough to see where it would go, but at the end I am feeling like there was really nothing to see here.

Diane Barnes
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well, well, well. What a weird little book. I say that in the most loving way, because sometimes I need weird and different to offset other types of books. This one had me from the very first page because Lillian, our narrator was, in any sense of the word, a loser of epic proportions. Living in her mother's attic, smoking weed, working part time at the sav-a-lot. Loser. But funny, which is always a saving grace. She agrees to help out a school friend who has two stepchildren, 10 year old twins, ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bonus points for Kevin Wilson living, writing, and teaching back in my home state of Tennessee. The big has references to Franklin, Vanderbilt, and Springfield which made it hit, literally, a little closer to home for me.

Also, bonus points for writing a compelling story about twins that catch on fire.

This book was funny and heart-warming all at the same time. It has a completely ridiculous plot that somehow manages to make you think about life, family, friendship, love, and money in a way you
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, fiction
This is such a strange and amusing book. I requested it on Libby many weeks ago without reading the blurb and had no idea what it was about or where it was headed but I started it up with hope in my heart (hope that it wasn't going to be sucky) and as soon as I started listening I realized I was going to follow it anywhere.

Lillian leaves her crappy life to take a former schoolmate up on an offer. She doesn’t know what the offer entails but she doesn’t think it’ll be any worse than living in her
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Kevin Wilson was born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Greensboro Review, The Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology (2005, 2006). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. A ...more
“A lot of times when I think I’m being self-sufficient, I’m really just learning to live without the things that I need.” 10 likes
“Because I kept fucking up, because it seemed so hard to not fuck up, I lived a life where I had less than what I desired. So instead of wanting more, sometimes I just made myself want even less. Sometimes I made myself believe that I wanted nothing.” 10 likes
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