I have a special affinity towards any book that mentions Iowa City. I know, for those of you who have never been there, it’s Iowa. It sounds about as exciting as Delaware. And for the most part I agree there isn’t too much to do or see in Iowa (although Zombie Burger in Des Moines is pretty damn good too.)
But Iowa City is the bright shining center of Iowa. It’s a gorgeous little town, overtaken for about 9 months out of the year by entitled college students. But when I was one of those students, living there was pretty damn near perfect. It just a thing.
You can feel the creativity and life in the air there. It’s hard to explain but I loved living there more than I’ve ever loved living anywhere else ever.
To be clear, I was an undergrad and while I took enough semester hours in writing to rival the amount of hours I needed for my actual major, any writing talent I may have had paled in comparison to my teachers who were students at the workshop.
They were legit playwrights, they had published short stories, and many were well on their way to being novelists. And I loved learning from all of them. And so many of the in their books capture the essence of Iowa City and what it means to so many people.
And just thinking of that time and those talented writers makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today I’m reviewing Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
From the Publisher:
At age thirty, Rose is fierce and smart, both self-aware and singularly blind to her power over others. After moving to New York, she is unexpectedly swallowed up by her past when she reunites with Lacie, the former best friend she betrayed in high school. Captivated once again by her old friend’s strange charisma, Rose convinces Lacie to let her move in, and the two fall into an intense, uneasy friendship.
While tutoring the offspring of Manhattan’s wealthy elite, Rose works on a novel she keeps secret—because it stars Lacie and details the betrayal that almost turned deadly. But the difference between fiction and fact, past and present, begins to blur, and Rose soon finds herself increasingly drawn to Lacie’s boyfriend, exerting a sexual power she barely understands she possesses, and playing a risky game that threatens to repeat the worst moments of her and Lacie’s lives.
Sharp-witted and wickedly addictive, Everyone Knows How Much I Love You is a uniquely dark entry into the canon of psychologically rich novels of friendship, compulsive behavior, and the dangerous reverberations of our actions, both large and small.
Lacie and Rose have a complicated relationship. They were once best friends, but that all changed their junior year in high school. Probably the only way they could have reunited is in a new place, in the city, where a shared history meant more than a betrayal.
They dynamic between the two of them is so strange. They are jealous of each other one minute, practically in love another and indifferent at times. And I have to say that it really mimics a true-life love/hate relationship that is possible in our twenties, during that time when we are still figuring out who we are. It’s messy. And real.
As the book progresses, we learn more about Rose and Lacie. We learn what motivates them, what they admire, what they are good at, what they love and what they covet. And it gets ugly. And the betrayal goes deeper. And it becomes clear that maybe, people never really change.
I really enjoyed Everyone Knows How Much I Love You. It’s literary fiction, the best kind, with a dash of melodrama and a pinch of thriller. Special thanks to Netgalley and Ballantine Books for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out June 23. Get your copy: