Please bear with me while I gush, but “Everyone Knows How Much I Love You” is probably one of the best things I’ve read in a few years. This is a particularly astonishing achievement for a debut novel. It’s a gripping read that delves into obsession, greed, self-loathing, betrayal, and friendship. Once I had started reading I had trouble tearing myself away. A welcome addition to the character studies of unreliable narrators that feels like Single White Female meets Nabokov.
Rose and Lacie were friends in their youth until one fateful night in high school where Rose changes everything. It’s that moment in a friendship that tears you from the other person shining a blacklight over them to reveal all the seedy flaws in their character.
Rose is our troubled protagonist, a 30 year old hopeful writer trying to get her debut novel published. It just so happens that very novel details the betrayal she committed in her adolescence. When Portia a publisher says that she’s almost finished with her masterpiece Rose travels to New York and while there finds Lacie convincing her to rekindle their friendship.
After some forceful persuasion, Lacie allows Rose back into her life in a major way allowing her to move in to her house rent free while Rose tutors wealthy children as a side job. It’s a very altruistic olive branch but the friendship takes a dark turn into obsession quickly. As Rose sets her eyes on Lacie’s boyfriend and her life, what will she be willing to do to be close to Lacie. Does Rose simply want to be her only friend or does she want to be her?
McCarthy delves into that line between friendship, envy, and obsession as well as what kind of love you feel for someone. She deftly handles a plot that in lesser hands could’ve have fallen in a pile of trivial novels on betrayals and toxicity in female friendships. A hot topic these days. Does Rose love her as a friend or something more? Is she simply a pawn in a dangerous game of power for her? While definitely 100% unhinged Rose has aspects of lucidity that allow her to convince herself of actions that we can easily see real humans doing.
The writing is utterly breathtaking. It flows almost as fluidly as the water frequently mentioned throughout. What struck me the most is the vivid imagery that McCarthy conjures for us with passages depicting things like silence passing between individuals as “honey from a spoon.” Symbolism and parallelism are frequently used as well to show us deeper insight into Rose’s individual character or lack thereof. Pay attention to small things throughout, even the fruit flies, as they play important roles in the storytelling. It’s as if McCarthy is weaving a puzzle that we have to piece together as we go.
Descriptions in the novel are not always metaphorically told though. Some are very graphic and fair warning some of the sexual encounters in this book are not only graphic but are BDSM so if you like modesty this may not be your cup of tea. Vanilla is not the flavor for this book. I usually do not enjoy any kind of sexual exploits in my novels, if I enjoy something from the romance genre it’ll be Jane Austen. Keep your corsets on is my go to however I believe the scenes in this book that are a bit over the top exist within the novel for a reason. They’re a glaring Michael Bay style flare to what is going on.
There were twists and turns I did not see coming although the majority of the book is more of a slow journey than anything. The cover and some of the more negative ARC reviews had me wondering about this novel but I am so thrilled I got a chance to read it. It’s definitely up my alley and I am highly recommending it with a perfect score.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine for the advanced copy.
Buy the book on June 23rd, 2020!!