A Lesson in Parenting: A Review of Nothing to See Here

“They didn’t want to set the world on fire. They just wanted to be less alone in it.”

Kevin Wilson, Nothing to See Here

This book brought me back to my memories of babysitting when I was in high school. From my limited experience, I know that taking care of a child is like a series of mini heart attacks. I think Lillian Breaker, the protagonist in Nothing to See Here, would agree. Lillian’s life has been downhill since extreme circumstances led to her expulsion in high school. Once a girl with a lot of talent and potential, Lillian now feels she has no control over her life. Out of the blue, Lillian reconnects with an old friend, Madison. In contrast to Lillian’s life, Madison has everything she ever wanted. She’s obscenely rich, and her husband is a successful politician. Now, Madison needs Lillian’s help to take care of her step children, Bessie and Roland. With no other prospects, Lillian accepts the job. However, there is one catch: Bessie and Roland have a condition where they spontaneously burst into flames. Yes, you read that correctly. Lillian must do what she can to minimize these fiery outbursts and keep their condition a secret. In Nothing to See Here, Kevin Wilson uses the perfect metaphor to describe the experience of taking care of kids. Though the story has an enticing hook, the plot lagged in the middle, making it a chore to finish.

I was surprised that there was a lot less fire, literally and figuratively, than I expected there would be. I picked up this book because I loved the concept of kids spontaneously bursting into flames. It peaked my interest as soon as I read it. The metaphor offers a great take on the daily struggles and fears of parents and caretakers. It is also a great way to depict the oscillating emotions of children. Fire can be symbolic of chaos, violence, and destruction. In this book, combustion is a symbol depicting temper tantrums. Lillian creates methods to minimize these outbursts quickly, so readers, don’t expect too many dramatic scenes. I would have thought there would be more of these crises to divert since that is the main hook. Since there wasn’t that much action, I felt like the book wasn’t exciting enough to hold my attention.

Wilson’s novel had a lot of potential for some funny and heartwarming moments, but I felt detached from the characters. I couldn’t connect in the way that I would have wanted with this story. I gave Nothing to See Here a 2.5 star rating. That sounds harsh because it was truly a well-written satire, but the story just wasn’t for me. The jokes didn’t really score any laughs, and I didn’t think the plot took off in a compelling direction. By the end, I was happy to finish it and move on to the next book. This is the kind of book that you can buy at the airport and flip through on a long flight. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple has a lot of similarities to this book in style and subject matter. Clearly, this book has a lot of fans seeing as it made it onto various bestseller lists. Even if it wasn’t my cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you won’t like it!

I admittedly bought Nothing to See Here at Target, but I will always try to encourage you to buy at a local bookstore! Today, I direct you to a Massachusetts bookstore called An Unlikely Story. Click the link below to buy your copy: https://www.anunlikelystory.com/book/9780062913494

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