Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Digital Audiobook narrated by Madeleine Maby
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 12, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 352 pages or 11 hours, 47 minutes
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As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.
But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.
Everything that happened to TifAni is terrible. Really horrifyingly terrible. There are all sorts of trigger warnings for this book – rape, youth violence, eating disorders, homophobia, severe bullying at the least. The background story is disgusting and heartbreaking.
But – and this is going to sound terrible – it’s really difficult to feel the full effect of the story when the main character is so unlikable. Her personality doesn’t make any of the things that happened to TifAni any less horrible, but in choosing to make this character so shallow and judgmental and unrelatable, it deadens the blow.
The first few chapters are all about TifAni’s life now. How she works a perfect job at a women’s magazine a la Cosmo, is marrying into old money, and likes to mess with aspiring journalists when they ask if they can take her for coffee. TifAni is getting married and is going “full ano” aka “full anorexic” because she’s a size 2 and soooo fat. I hate women like this, books like this. I have friends who have eating disorders, and it destroys their life. It’s not as simple as trying to fit in the tiniest wedding dress. It’s a constant voice in their head telling them they are disgusting, that their body is broken and it will be rejecting any food. So the casual ED drops made me really hate TifAni.
Add the way she treats and manipulates people? She’s a horrible character to be stuck with for the entire book. What I wouldn’t give for a second POV.
TifAni’s past is is filled with all the worst things that could happen to a person. By the time we hear about all these things, the dislike of TifAni has been set in stone. We are horrified by it all, we are furious for the way people have treated all the incidents (there’s a certain Planned Parenthood doctor that I am personally enraged at). I don’t want to share the details of Ani’s past, because I think the disgust is better as a raw surprise. It very much all had the edge of a Jodi Picoult book, but with far more injustice.
The writing was fine… I think that marketing did an injustice to this book by calling it “the next Gone Girl“. The voice is similar to Amy’s but far less interesting and original, and the story itself is very different. The story hits on a lot of important issues, but doesn’t address them as well as they could have. I feel like… Jessica Knoll had a lot of touchpoint she wanted to include in the story, but sometimes I feel it’s better to focus on one thing or another. By giving so much attention to the incident, she’s allowed the other unforgivable things to fall into the background a bit. I think that Jessica Knoll could have made incredible, heartbreaking stories about each of the horrible things that happened in this book and made an impact in bringing these issues to life. Maybe she still will.
I didn’t love Luckiest Girl Alive because I didn’t like TifAni, but I think that this story is still important. Don’t go into it looking for the next Gone Girl. Go in for a story of tragedy and education and stick with it through the first half of the book even when you want to toss Ani at a wall. I would read other books by Jessica Knoll.