Review: All the Things We Never Knew

Title: All the Things We Never Knew
Author: Liara Tamani
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 372
Review copy: ARC via author
Availability: June 9, 2020

Summary: From the moment Carli and Rex first locked eyes on a Texas high school basketball court, they both knew it was destiny. But can you truly love someone else if you don’t love yourself? Acclaimed author Liara Tamani’s luminous second novel explores love, family, heartbreak, betrayal, and the power of healing, in gorgeous prose that will appeal to readers of Nicola Yoon and Jacqueline Woodson.

A glance was all it took. That kind of connection, the immediate and raw understanding of another person, just doesn’t come along very often. And as rising stars on their Texas high schools’ respective basketball teams, destined for bright futures in college and beyond, it seems like a match made in heaven. But Carli and Rex have secrets. As do their families.

Liara Tamani, the author of the acclaimed Calling My Name, follows two Black teenagers as they discover how first love, heartbreak, betrayal, and family can shape you—for better or for worse. A novel full of pain, joy, healing, and hope for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jenny Han.

Review: Over the past few weeks, books that make me smile are the ones I’m reaching for and All the Things We Never Knew definitely had me smiling. Of course, it’s not all perfect hearts and rainbows straight through, but there are plenty of giggle worthy moments starting with the unusual meet-cute on the basketball court. What makes Carly and Rex so smile-inducing is that they both have soft and smooshy sides to them and they’re able to share that with each other.

Tamani chose to use a dual perspective which helps readers clearly see what leads up to the misunderstandings and miscommunications. I appreciated being able to see the thought processes of both Carly and Rex as they worked through their own personal pain and scars.

Beyond the romantic relationship, family relationships are a huge part of this story. Carly’s family is dealing with some major life changes and some rather large secrets. Rex and his father don’t communicate, but Rex has to decide if he is finished trying or if he wants to make an effort to connect.

This story revolves around secrets: why people keep them, who we can trust with them, and what happens when they are revealed. These secrets lead to a lot of pain even though avoiding pain is typically why the secrets were kept in the first place.

Recommendation: Get it soon if you’re looking for an engaging contemporary romance that will provide some humor along with a few struggles. It’s more upbeat than not and while a little predictable in some aspects, it’s a solid story that deals with those compelling questions of “Who am I now?”, “Who do I want to be?, and “How will I get there?”

Discussion Guide

Author Liara Tamani Shares Her Writing Process via YayFinder

Out of the Box: Exploring the Boundlessness of Black Girlhood – Panel at #EverywhereFest