Many high school basketball players dream of having the talent and the drive to make it to the next level—but what happens to those who actually do? Liara Tamani’s All the Things We Never Knew explores the lives of two young players and the bond they form both on and off of the court.
Carli and Rex are both star athletes with promising careers ahead of them. When Carli literally falls into Rex’s arms during a game, it seems like destiny that they should end up together. But as the two are swept into a whirlwind romance, it quickly becomes clear that their lives are more complicated than they first appeared.
Rex is ambitiously pursuing his goal of playing basketball professionally in the NBA, but Carli is determined to escape the sport permanently. While Carli grapples with her parents’ sudden, jarring divorce, Rex strives to connect with his father, who has become emotionally absent since Rex’s mother’s death. All of this leaves Carli and Rex struggling to hold onto one another.
In chapters that alternate perspectives between Carli and Rex, Tamani develops distinct narrative voices for each character that ring true. Readers will cheer for them, cry with them and occasionally—but passionately—question the choices they make. Tamani doesn’t avoid complexity; although few teens share Carli and Rex’s athletic gifts, every teen has made a mistake and hurt someone they love, and Tamani’s willingness to let her characters make these mistakes too will endear them to readers all the more. Raw and honest, All the Things We Never Knew is a slam dunk.