Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy
Published by Ballantine
Publication date: June 23, 2020
Genres: Debut, Fiction
On Wednesday I reviewed a novel about female friendship that was unsettling because of the drama in the character’s lives, but managed to resonate in its portrayal of the many phases and nuances of long-term friendships. I went into today’s novel with the same hopes, but was deeply disappointed. I debated whether to even write this review because we’re all being overwhelmed with negativity right now. At the same, honest reviews are what I do. So…skip Everyone Knows How Much I Love You. If you’re really in the mood for roommate-gone-bad psychodrama watch the movie Single White Female.
Rose and Lacie were best friends all through school. After an accident senior year involving Lacie’s boyfriend and Rose they lost touch for 12 years. Now at 30, Lacie lives in NYC, working as a graphic designer, and Rose, wanting to establish herself as an author has recently arrived. Lacie is dating someone Rose knows from a writing program. Slowly, insidiously, she begins to intertwine herself into Lacie’s life again, even getting her to let her move in. Oh, and the novel she’s working on? It’s about Lacie and their high school years leading up to the accident. Less than a quarter of the way into Everyone Knows this fact and a lot of other creepy factors have already been revealed, meaning for the novel to go anywhere it has to head straight off the rails. By the end it does.
I’m not going to work myself up into a rant about Everyone Knows. My dislike of the novel is partially due to my expectations. I thought it would be a literary look at a complicated friendship—such fertile ground for fiction. But instead of subtlety this is a trope-laden novel about a fake friendship and real obsession. Lacie and Rose never come to life, but lay on the page weighted in stereotypes: Lacie, blonde, blue eyed, good and Rose, brunette, troubled, loner. I love an unlikable character, but I have to be able to understand why they are that way. Rose is a cardboard cutout villain while nothing about Lacie is fleshed out enough to make her seem incredibly “charismatic”. This leaves the novel staggering on the fumes of a plot that’s been played out in books and movies for far too long.
Looking for great reading about complicated female friendships? Try Old Lovegood Girls by Gail Godwin, The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, and Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak
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