Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is a near impossible sell. With its dreadful cover (really??) and odd sounding storyline (twins who catch fire when they get agitated) my go-to-bookseller struggled to convince me. Luckily, I succumbed because this is an utterly surprising, funny and moving novel. It’s the story of the Lillian, an aimless loner, who’s hired by her glamorous friend Madison as nanny for her twin stepchildren. There’s a catch: the twins combust when they’re upset. If you find this plot implausible, you won’t be alone, but somehow Wilson succeeds in making it credible and what seems like a shallow novel turns into something much weightier.
Madison and Lillian met as teens at an upscale boarding school in Tennessee, their backgrounds as different as they come. Lillian, on scholarship, lives with her alcoholic mother and ‘a rotating cast of boyfriends’, Madison is all Waspy privilege. Two things they have in common: they’re smart and they’re cynical.
Their ways part in a terrible manner, which I won’t reveal, but they somehow stay in touch, driven by Lillian’s obsession with the ‘perfect’ Madison. Years pass and Madison reaches out to Lillian asking for a favour. She needs a nanny to look after her stepchildren. Her wealthy, politician husband Jasper is aiming for high public office and the inconvenience of the combustible children needs to be dealt with.
I won’t reveal more other than to say that Wilson’s razor-sharp writing and deadpan humour had me glued to the page, only interrupted by uncontrollable fits of laughing. Seldom has parental neglect, family break-down, privilege and love been portrayed in such a punchy way.
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson is published by Text Publishing Company, 288 pages.