Author: Jessica Knoll
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 12, 2015
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
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 remember hearing about Luckiest Girl Alive back around the time when I was reading Hausfrau, and The Girl on the Train was still fresh, and everyone was all WE NEED TO FIND THE NEXT GONE GIRL. (A book that I love, but can we agree that we need to stop looking for the next one?) That said, I am a sucker and will read anything compared even tangentially to Gillian Flynn's magnum opus--even this book, which honestly seems to get more lukewarm reviews than solidly good ones.
I am happy I fell for the bait here though, because my review is decidedly not lukewarm. I adored this novel from cover to cover.
My first draw was to the protagonist, Ani, who in the beginning gives off a real bitchy, biting vibe. I liked her despite this harsh edge. Ani is judgmental, vain, and sneaky. However, she's also quite the faker, as she keeps many of her unflattering opinions to herself, manipulating those around her to see only the parts of her that she allows them to see. This was my first clue to the fact that Ani is not what she initially seems. Her character transforms immensely over the course of the book. She exposes weaknesses that I never imagined when I met her tough exterior on page 1. The Ani of the final page is nearly unrecognizable from the one you meet early on, but given the events that are revealed throughout the novel, I found that to be a perfectly believable shift.
I like plot twists, and I got a lifetime supply here. Ani's background at Bradley is slowly revealed, and when the BIG problem of her past was finally thrown open, I never saw it coming. But there were plenty of smaller issues to keep me riveted along the way as well. This, in combination with the emotional upheaval that Ani is experiencing, literally left my heart racing at many points in the book. I love it when I have to put down a book for a little while because I am just TOO WORKED UP to continue.
Bonus of this book: amazing flashbacks to high school days, circa early-2000s. Abercrombie & Fitch cargo pants and Steve Madden clogs for the win.
In the end, I think Luckiest Girl Alive, despite its difficult and violent themes, is actually a bit of a lighter read than many of its contemporaries. Much of this is due to Ani's character, who brings in more humor than a Rachel in Girl on the Train, or an Amy in Gone Girl. So it's really the tone that's lighter, not so much the subject matter.
Either way, I recommend this book up and down. Yay for Ani, yay for books about off-kilter, misunderstood bitches, and yay for Luckiest Girl Alive.
What's the last book you read that you had a different reaction to than many other readers? (Either you loved it and they disliked it, or vice versa?)