It always amazes me when coincidences occur. I just recently received a letter from a childhood friend whom I haven’t heard from for many years. She was writing not only to send me news of the death of a mutual friend but she also caught me up a bit on what’s going on in her life. What’s this got to do with Nothing to See Here? Well, it turns I had just finished reading this book when my friend’s letter arrived. I attended East View Elementary School and my friend went to Doak Elementary, both in Greeneville, Tennessee, in Greene County, located in East Tennessee. My friend and I met in seventh grade at Andrew Johnson Middle School. After middle school she continued on at the local high school and I went off to boarding school. The setting of this book is in Nashville, albeit on the other end of the state, but the names of the characters have everything to do with Greene County. The author, Kevin Wilson, lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he is a professor at Sewanee University, and it is clear that he has done his research for this book. He also suffers from Tourette’s which for him manifests him internally, rather than with involuntary vocal or motor tics. He also has an obsession with spontaneous combustion.
The main character, Lillian Breaker, and Madison Billings meet at a boarding school in Tennessee, and become best friends even though they come from opposite ends of the social spectrum. After a bit of drama resulting in Lillian’s expulsion, they go their separate ways but manage to stay in touch through occasional letters. After ten years, Lillian’s life is unexciting and financially difficult, but Madison has married into an old Tennessee family, the Roberts. (My friend’s last name is now Roberts). One day Lillian receives a letter from Madison in which Madison requests Lillian’s help in taking over the care of twins. Apparently Madison’s husband Jasper is a Congressman (my friend’s husband ran for Congress), and the possibility of his advancing his career would necessitate their moving to Washington, DC. The twins are not hers, but are Jasper’s and his first wife Jane Doak Cunningham’s. The Roberts, Doaks, and Cunninghams are all old East Tennessee families. The twins Bessie and Roland have an affliction which results in many an emergency and would be an embarrassment should Madison and Jasper take the twins out into public. The rest of the novel is concerned with how Lillian, who has accepted Madison’s request, deals with the twins and how they become a part of her life.
This was a quick read with many unexpected events and, of course, the coincidences kept me interested as well.