All the Secrets of the World

Steve Almond

I devoured All the Secrets of the World in a couple of big, greedy bites. It is at once a media critique, a coming-of-age story, a meticulously plotted police procedural, an exploration of racial paranoia, and a haunting account of lust and longing on the fringes of what is allowable. Most of all, it’s a deeply compassionate book that shows how policies can trickle down into the lives of individuals and strip them of their humanity.”

- Anthony Doerr, author of Cloud Cuckoo Land and All the Light We Cannot See

“A breathtaking success . . . dazzling.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] rollicking, wide-ranging, unpredictable novel—part crime story, part coming-of-age, part satire, part deadly serious.” —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers

Who pays for the secrets we keep? For the lies we tell ourselves? 





Page count




Sale date

March 21, 2023


‎ 5.5 x 1.04 x 8.25

About the Book

Lorena Saenz has just been paired with Jenny Stallworth for a school project by a teacher hoping to unite two girls from starkly different backgrounds. Jenny is pretty and popular, and Lorena is quickly drawn into the family’s picture-perfect suburban lifestyle. Jenny’s mother, Rosemary, is glamorous, but needy—she treats Lorena like a friend, if only to break up the monotony of lonely afternoons. Jenny’s father, Marcus, spends his days teaching and his nights wandering the desert, absorbed in his research on the scorpions of Death Valley. Outwardly, they are the perfect family, poised for success in 1981 Sacramento at the dawn of a glorious American decade. Lorena finds her access intoxicating and alluring, a far cry from her life in the small apartment she shares with her single mother.

But the veneer is shattered when Marcus disappears. The prime suspect: Lorena’s troubled older brother, Tony.

To uncover the truth, Lorena must embark on an unforgiving odyssey into the desert, into the secrets and lies of the Stallworth family, and the dark heart of America’s criminal justice system. A shape-shifting social novel, All the Secrets of the World is a propulsive tour de force from a writer at the height of his powers.


“A breathtaking success . . . At times a race-to-the-finish mystery, this book can also rightly be categorized as a searing meditation on the multigenerational traumas endured by a family of undocumented immigrants . . . It is a dazzling magic trick that explains why the author reportedly took 30 years to complete the manuscript . . . the wait, it turns out, has been entirely worth it.”

- Zack Ruskin, San Francisco Chronicle

“[An] edgy, retroactive thrill ride . . . Wealth, power, influence, race, America’s broken criminal justice system, and a cameo by Nancy Reagan all play significant parts in this examination of buried truths, prejudices, class structure, and morality. [In All the Secrets of the World] we’re presented with the accumulation of [Almond’s] talent for intricate storytelling, his skillset as a reporter, and his lifelong compassion for all human beings, no matter their flaws or shortcomings. The result is epic.”

- Raj Tawney, Miami New Times

“The fates of two Sacramento families collide most spectacularly in All the Secrets of the World . . . Almond paints a satirically astute portrait of Reagan’s America, with California the epicenter of the president’s anti-crime campaign . . . With cleverly overlapping subplots and a memorable cast of characters, Almond’s meticulously researched novel is a triumph of storytelling powered by a central theme: the perilous disconnect between those who control or abuse systems of power and the individuals who are at the losing end of the power dynamic . . . A sensitive storyteller admired for his rich, diverse literary work and his quirky brilliance, Almond skillfully embellishes his realist drama with notions of the magical and celestial . . . Ingenious.”

- Shahina Piyarali, Shelf Awareness

“Steve Almond is a fierce talent—a writer who possesses both a deep heart and a sharp edge. His work shimmers with intelligence and simmers with eroticism. He’s got the goods.”

- Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls

“With one unexpected twist after another, Steve Almond pulls you into this wild and engrossing novel about family, scorpions, and the rules of attraction. In All the Secrets of the World he shrewdly dissects the social and emotional landscape of 1980s California and creates a true page-turner.”

- Héctor Tobar, author of The Last Great Road Bum

“Almond, a master of the short form, has now set himself loose on a vast canvas, giving us a rollicking, wide-ranging, unpredictable novel—part crime story, part coming-of-age, part satire, part deadly serious. This book is sharp, fast-moving, juicy . . . a wild ride and a great deal of fun.”

- Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers