Release Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Literary Fiction | Women's Lit
HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.
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.
With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.
The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?
I didn't plan on reading LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll... until I saw Reese Witherspoon's 15sec video on Instagram raving about the book. Know that I'm not following Ms. Witherspoon in any way, I have no idea what her taste in books are, I don't know if we have books in common. BUT if she loved Gone Girl hard enough to turn it into a movie, I think I can trust her that much to pick up JKnoll's first novel.
I read JKnoll's Fifty-One Shades of Blonde (Cosmo Red-Hot Read) about 3 years ago. Didn't like it, not because it was bad, it was incomplete and felt like a fanfic of a fanfic. It was so forgettable her name didn't even ring a bell until I started drafting this post and realized she's on my Rolodex already.
Suffice to say she's been redeemed. Not that she needs any validation from me, after this book hits the shelves this lady won't have time for little blogs like Talk Supe. I say this though because I'm now an official Jessica Knoll fan. From this point onwards, I will be reading each book she releases, her Red-Hot story forgotten, and won't be counted against her any longer as far as I'm concerned.
LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE is everything the advance reviews are gushing about. From the first chapter, TifAni FaNelli has captured my cold heart and dark imagination. Her bitter lamentations, feigned sincerity, and brutally honest observations, tempered with unexpected compassion for the unfortunate, and meaningful friendships with delinquents had me rubbing my hands in glee. I know this girl will turn my world upside down for a day (or more) because I'm sure she has a huge story to tell. One can't be this polarizing if one didn't go through hell at some point, and I was more than happy to toe that line with her as she tells us her life's account. I do love my twisted tales.
I didn't love Ani in any way by the end of LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE, which is such a snarky title by the way, nor did I hate her either. Ani is vainglorious and easy to hate, oddly enough its her sharp edges that made LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE such a compelling novel to read. See Ani was one of those girls who had a certain desperation about them that turned into extreme insecurity. She was desperate to be one of the cool kids so she'd do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to be one of them. She'll sell her soul to the devil if she has to as long as she has the approval of the popular clique.
And it's this lack of judgment, this failing of wisdom on her part, and skewed priorities that made it hard to empathize with her. In essence, Ani chose to put herself in a vulnerable position so she has only herself to blame for her misfortune. That said, Ani doesn't want our sympathies either. She never played the victim and instead used the incidents in her past to fuel her ambition and reinvention. But even after a decade, Bradley is still in her mind and no amount of success, money, arm candy, will be enough for Ani to let go of that part of her life. As you can tell, this girl has serious issues and is only minutes away from being featured in Dateline or Dr. Phil.
Despite my impressions about Ani, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE had me at its grips until the last word was read. JKnoll interspersed Ani's past with her present and when it all came to a head, the revelation just hit me in waves. I felt strong contrasting emotions at rapid fire rate and I think I got whiplash from the intensity. It stopped being about the characters and what you feel for them, and became the story as a whole, and everyone's contribution to it. The big picture is colored with dark and bold tones, heavy brush strokes, nightmarish, and disturbing. Everyone's a hero. Everyone's the villain. Nobody won.
LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE is a very thought and emotionally provoking story. The narrative is unfiltered, acerbic, gritty, and jarring in its honesty. It will suck you in, position you in the story as if you're part of the cast. Rob you of words, overwhelm you with emotions, the twisted tale lingering long after you've read it. Heck, you might even feel compelled to reread it right away. It's THAT well-written. Let me warn you though, Ani is very abrasive, if you read a sample you'll know what I'm talking about. But don't be deterred, keep on reading and I promise you, this mind bender will be one of the best novels you'll read this year, if not ever.