Books by State: Tennessee

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

“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?” — Summary from Amazon.

This was a uniquely heart-warming book full of shaky yet intimate connections between the characters, especially Lillian and the twins. Their first meeting was very rough, but they actually warmed up to each other quickly. The twins finally found someone who treated them like normal kids and who seemed to truly care for them and enjoy being around them. After their father sent them away and their mother hiding them away out of fear of what they could do, Lillian’s easy acceptance of them seems to good to be true. From the start, Lillian refuses to give up on them – which certainly helped in regards to them trusting her.

The tone of the book really sells the story. We have Lillian as our narrator, and she conveys the events to us in a very conversational way, which I loved. It feels more intimate, which may be the word I would use to describe the book as a whole. It all just felt so intimate. It was much more sincere than it would have been with a detached narrator, and I think that’s what makes it work so well. Lillian was able to give us more emotional details and convey them to us in a way that makes you as the reader feel like you know these characters personally and are just listening to her retelling how it all came to be.

Not only is it a hear-warming tale about acceptance and what it feels like to connect with someone on a deep level and want to do whatever you can to care for them, it is also a tale about social status and how it affects people. Madison and her politician husband hire Lillian to care for the kids because they want them out of sight with someone who can be discreet. Madison claims she asked Lillian because she knew if anyone could handle the kids it would be her, but I think it also partially had to do with the fact that she knew Lillian didn’t have many friends or family she could gossip to and a life that she would willingly drop in an instant because it was a dismal existence – not much to feel regret about leaving behind. Lillian and Madison had a complicated past in which Madison is painted as easily being a bit selfish because of her privileged upbringing. Their dynamic showcases how two very similar people in a lot of regards end up in very different positions in life simply because of the level of social status they were born into.

Overall, I’d say Nothing to See Here was an incredibly insightful book in multiple regards. It was also just a pleasure to read. I listened to the audiobook for this one which was around 7 hours, so it is also a fairly quick read. It’s an easy read and absolutely worth it!

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