When I first picked up Jessica Knoll’s debut novel, Luckiest Girl Alive, I didn’t really know that much about it other than the fact that it was part of my favorite genre. It had been getting great press and was being compared to multiple books that I have read including Flynn’s Gone Girl (ok, I have still not read this one, but I saw the movie) and Harrison’s The Silent Wife ( you can read my post here A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife). So, I decided to give it a shot. And it was not at all what I had expected.
The book follows Ani FaNelli, a young woman who is striving to create the perfect life for herself. She has a glamorous job working at a magazine and a handsome fiancé from a well-to-do family, but events that happened in her past keep finding their way to the surface and threaten the life that she has carefully pieced together.
While Knoll does alternate between the past and the present, for the most part, the story takes place in the past. It is there where we learn of the private pain and public humiliation that Ani (TifAni back then) had to endure. And while we do feel for her, there is something dark and sinister underlying throughout that at times makes you question just how honest the narrator is being. But also, it makes you wonder whether it is possible for someone who went through as much as she did to go on living a normal life without unconsciously trying to sabotage it.
It’s always nice when there is a character that you like in a novel, one that you can somehow relate to. Ani isn’t likeable. In fact, none of the characters really were, but they were also more in the background. In Ani, we quickly find a character shift. In the beginning she is a strong, put together, successful woman, but that soon changes and for most of the novel she is just that scared, traumatized young adult who’s only ‘coolness’ is the façade that she passes on for reality. Ani wasn’t likeable, but she is relatable. There are many people out there who never show their true characters, who never let others in for fear of getting rejected or hurt or labeled. Ani drives this story forward because even though you don’t care, you want to know what happened, you want to know what she went through and you want to know how it turns out.