All the Secrets of the World by Steve Almond [8/10]

A careening drama of American rich and poor crashing together in the 1980s, “All the Secrets of the World” is an intoxicating read. When a poor teenage girl, brilliant, bookish, and tough, is unexpectedly injected into a rich southern family riven by dysfunction, dangerous currents mix and then explode leaving a scientist missing, a drug dealer in prison, an outsider cop reluctantly quixotic, and our teenage heroine plunged into a cross-country odyssey. Throw in cameo appearances by Barbara Bush and you can see that this is no standardized drama. All the Secrets of the World harnesses the redoubtable writing chops of a prolific short story and nonfiction writer, and this debut is exuberantly, buoyantly penned with a complex plotline masterfully controlled. The amazing thing about the debut novel is that it sounds like it should be a “difficult” literary novel. Instead it is an immersive, entertaining read that also illuminates our human world. A must-read for 2022.

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