A comic, feel-good novel about children who spontaneously combust. Lillian is hired by her rich friend Madison to be the governess to her stepchildren who are now coming to live with them. Madison’s husband is a senator and jockeying for the position of Secretary of State. The only problem is that these kids have a condition: when they get upset they burst into flames, burn off their clothes and everything they touch—but then they’re fine. This uproariously funny novel about “fire children” is narrated through Lillian’s dead pan voice. And it amazingly becomes a really moving novel about parenting. Highly recommended!— Dafydd Wood
It would be easy to be distracted by the bright flames of smoldering kids and miss the true brilliance of what Wilson accomplishes here. Through the creation and very existence of the fire children whose influence is felt nearly throughout, Wilson draws us through significant reflections on wealth and privilege, family and dysfunction, love and loyalty and abject disregard for familial ties. His narrator, Lillian, burns brightest of all, with nary a flame to her name. Slighted by parentage and cruel twists of fate, she nevertheless forges on with a reckless but burgeoning heart, simmering with love of all kinds that she ultimately cannot suppress. If I was even a tad more impressed with it all, I might very well burst into flames myself. — Jon Fine
“When a politician’s young wife hires her old school friend as a nanny for her two stepchildren, the main duty will be to keep the twins out of sight and out of trouble. That’s because the kids’ father is a senator and under serious consideration to be the next Secretary of State. But what if the children can’t control themselves? Who is the best person to take care of children who are afflicted with spontaneous combustion? Obviously, a woman with no fear of fire, nothing to lose, and nothing to gain. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this unique novel explores family dynamics, resentment, and retribution, leaving the reader with a new perspective on motherhood and what it means to be loyal to those you love.”
— Laura Simcox, Sunrise Books, High Point, NC
A New York Times Bestseller • A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, People, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, TIME, The A.V. Club, Buzzfeed, and PopSugar
“I can’t believe how good this book is.... It’s wholly original. It’s also perfect.... Wilson writes with such a light touch.... The brilliance of the novel [is] that it distracts you with these weirdo characters and mesmerizing and funny sentences and then hits you in a way you didn’t see coming. You’re laughing so hard you don’t even realize that you’ve suddenly caught fire.” —Taffy Brodesser-Akner, author of Fleishman is in Trouble, New York Times Book Review
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Family Fang, a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with a remarkable ability.
Lillian and Madison were unlikely roommates and yet inseparable friends at their elite boarding school. But then Lillian had to leave the school unexpectedly in the wake of a scandal and they’ve barely spoken since. Until now, when Lillian gets a letter from Madison pleading for her help.
Madison’s twin stepkids are moving in with her family and she wants Lillian to be their caretaker. However, there’s a catch: the twins spontaneously combust when they get agitated, flames igniting from their skin in a startling but beautiful way. Lillian is convinced Madison is pulling her leg, but it’s the truth.
Thinking of her dead-end life at home, the life that has consistently disappointed her, Lillian figures she has nothing to lose. Over the course of one humid, demanding summer, Lillian and the twins learn to trust each other—and stay cool—while also staying out of the way of Madison’s buttoned-up politician husband. Surprised by her own ingenuity yet unused to the intense feelings of protectiveness she feels for them, Lillian ultimately begins to accept that she needs these strange children as much as they need her—urgently and fiercely. Couldn’t this be the start of the amazing life she’d always hoped for?
With white-hot wit and a big, tender heart, Kevin Wilson has written his best book yet—a most unusual story of parental love.
Kevin Wilson is the author of the novels The Family Fang, a New York Times bestseller adapted into an acclaimed film starring Nicole Kidman, and Perfect Little World, as well as the story collections Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, and Baby, You’re Gonna Be Mine. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife and two sons.