Near the end of our discussion of Nothing to See Here, by Kevin Wilson, I asked our group what they thought the book was about—besides, of course, children who spontaneously combust when agitated. Our answers: parental love, the families we choose, acceptance, loyalty. The fire is the most remarkable at first glance, but as we also discussed, is it really when compared to the many possible disorders and problems that can so overwhelm families and caregivers? We considered whether the title referred to the secret to be kept and hidden or the fact that fire power was really not so remarkable after all.
Several members commented that the foul language in the book had initially been off-putting, but as they read on they were won over. Someone mentioned that after a while the language seemed natural and fitting rather than shocking. A few of us apparently hadn’t noticed. Overall, we agreed that the book was easy to read and well written. One of our group even liked the book enough to read it in just a few days and had then started the author’s first novel, The Family Fang. Another reader, who couldn’t attend the meeting, was moved enough to write a detailed response that included an interesting comparison of Lillian to Mary Poppins.
One member did not find entirely believable Lillian’s ability to respond so well to being bitten by Bessie. Another, a teacher who has been kicked and hit and abused by young children, shared that when you know that you will have to come back and deal with the same children day after day, you must be able to forgive and move on. We touched on Lillian’s inexperience with good parenting and how helping these children, even allowing them to sleep in the same bed with her, was something she needed as much as did the children.
Our discussion was thoughtful. We considered the role of wealth in parenting and one of us thought that perhaps the fire was necessary because it couldn’t be so easily hidden or solved with money. How tragic that the children’s abandoned mother, overwhelmed and alone in trying to care for her children, killed herself and tried to kill her children. How horrible is their father, Jasper. We touched on many things, including the beauty of Tennessee, Cedars of Lebanon State Park, the Tennessee Walking horse, Graceland, Dolly Parton, stone soup, and the origin of the phrase Son of a Gun!
We ended the meeting slightly early, with mini Moon Pies and sweet iced tea to go—trying to keep that Southern, Tennessee connection.
- Other works discussed:
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (2019)
- The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson (2011)