I recently finished this little gem of a novel, and was reminded of its sparkle and shine last night after seeing a wonderful interview with the author, Kevin Wilson, on the PBS News Hour. If you are looking for a quick read that will warm your heart on a cold winter day, look no further.
Imagine your best friend betrays you and gets you expelled during your senior year at boarding school; you take the fall for your roommate because she is rich and you are poor. Many years later, when you’re stuck in your dead-end life, you get a letter out of the blue from this same person asking for a major favor: can you drop everything, move across the country to my mansion, and take care of my twin step-kids this summer? That’s what Madison (the rich politician’s wife) asks of Lillian (the betrayed friend), and Lillian ultimately decides she has nothing to lose but her curiosity about Madison’s life since high school.
Oh, and there’s another twist. The twins that she is taking care of literally burst into flames when agitated (a great metaphor, of course). Lillian doesn’t believe it at first, but it does not take long for her to get ocular proof of this strange affliction. From the first meeting with the twins onward, the book centers on how Lillian build trusts in them, and vice versa. Together, they learn to manage themselves and the world around them. In the process, Lillian slowly reclaims her pride, her relationship with Madison (on her own terms), and develops a great and unsettling affection for her charges.
In the PBS interview, Wilson says he was trying to use his satirical humor to push readers to think about what defines a family. I agree, but I think the story also raises questions about trust and forgiveness, about appearance versus reality, and about class differences.
Enjoy every minute!
If you would like to see the PBS interview with author Kevin Wilson, click here.
If you would like to reserve a copy, click here.
Review by Roberta Jordan, Outreach and Instruction Librarian.