Funny enough, after finishing this book, my friend and I started watching I’m Not Okay With This together (see: video chatting while watching separately, hitting play at the same moment), and both that show and this novel involve young people who are unable to control innate abilities within themselves, that always seem to burst forth when the individual is angry or agitated in some way. But in both cases, this concept, while integral to the plot, is a vehicle for reaching into the deeper truths of humanity, growing up, and finding a sense of belonging.
Nothing to See Here centers on a woman named Lillian, years after a scandal at her private boarding school forced her to leave, and in the process leave behind her roommate and good friend, Madison. Since then, Lillian has been adrift in her life, working dead-end jobs and living in her mother’s attic. But when Madison contacts her one day with a potential job offer, Lillian is quick to reunite with her friend. The job? A nanny position for Madison’s twin stepchildren. Seems simple enough, but there’s a catch: the children happen to have a condition where they spontaneously catch on fire. Madison’s husband is a politician on the upswing, and he doesn’t want his current, perfect family image ruined by these two unpredictable children from his previous marriage. Lillian takes the job because, well, she doesn’t really have any other prospects on the horizon, so what does she have to lose?
With a seemingly strange and possibly goofy conceit, Nothing to See Here is not just a fun little ride, but also one with strong emotional resonance about finding purpose after being adrift for so long, and searching for a sense of belonging somewhere. In fact, it made me think about some of the kids that I briefly worked with while studying to be an art therapist a few years ago: so many of them were struggling to try and find a sense of control in a world so seemingly out of it, and one in particular just wanted to feel secure about people being there for them but couldn’t let her guard down after years of being shuffled around, treated like a problem to be solved. But it’s not just the kid’s who experience this, but Lillian as she finds herself being pushed into and out of roles as it is deemed fit by other people, despite where she wants to be. It also brings to question whether our sense of belonging and purpose can change as we grow and find ourselves in new positions, and if maybe the idea of “home” isn’t always such a clear-cut concept. And yeah okay Lillian’s character did resonate with me in a lot of ways in regards to just having no idea where she wants to go or wants to do and just feeling stuck because of it. Whatever the case, this novel was quick and fun to listen to as an audiobook, and right up the alley of anyone who likes family dramedy (but this time with a little supernatural zest).