Book of the Month: Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (2019)

 

Critical Evaluation

“Temper tantrums and meltdowns. They’re a bane of parenting. Often at the most inconvenient moment possible, your kid — tired, hungry, beyond reason — just loses it. And it’s your job to keep your cool and calm them down. After all, you’re the grownup.

Well, here’s cold comfort: It could be worse. In Kevin Wilson’s third novel, Nothing to See Here, kids spontaneously combust — literally — when angered or upset. Their flareups don’t cause injury to themselves, but they can be seriously damaging to people and property in their vicinity. Not to mention alarming. (Sometimes, five alarm.) But also, the way Wilson plays it, a form of self-defense that’s funny and even eerily beautiful.”

McAlpin, Heather, “Kevin Wilson Is On Fire In ‘Nothing To See Here'” NPR.org,

 

First Excerpt

“I met Madison at a fancy girls’ school hidden on a mountain in the middle of nowhere. A hundred or so years ago, maybe even longer, all the men who had managed to make enough money in such a barren landscape decided that they needed a school to prepare their daughters for the eventuality of marrying some other rich man, moving up in life, until no one remembered a time when they were anything other than exemplary. They brought some British guy to Tennessee, and he ran it like some school for princesses, and soon other rich men from other barren landscapes sent their daughters. And then, after this happened enough times, rich people in real cities, like New York or Chicago started hearing about this school and started sending their own daughters. And, like anything, if you can catch that kind of good luck, it holds for centuries.”

 

Second Excerpt

“I grew up in the valley of that mountain, just poor enough that I could imagine a way out. I lived with my mom and a rotating cast of her boyfriends, my father either dead or just checked out. My mother was vague about him, not a single picture. It seemed like maybe some Greek god had assumed the form of a stallion and impregnated my mother before returning to his home atop a mountain. More likely it was just a pervert in one of the fancy homes that my mom cleaned. Maybe he was some alderman in town, and I’d seen him all my life without knowing it. But I preferred to think he was dead, that he wholly was incapable of saving me from my unhappiness.”