This novel came out of nowhere for me. A novel I originally picked up and discarded over a year ago, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE by Jessica Knoll crept back into my consciousness, and thus, I picked it up again.
Boy, I was glad I did.
A novel about how mistakes in the youth warp your entire life path, this novel is dark. Be forewarned.
RELEASE DATE: May 2015
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
DISCLAIMER: Novel sent via NetGallery in exchange for a honest review
SYNOPSIS: 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?
REVIEW: There is nothing ‘good’ in this novel. This novel contains some of the worst sides of life. This novel has no heroes. This novel has no rooting character. This novel is dark, this novel is bleak, this novel is real.
Ani (formerly TifAni) is engaged to her luxe fiancee and lives out the perfect life. Designer labels, designer price tags, designer life. Yet Ani harbours a deep and dark secret – one intertwined so immensely with her life that it’s become immensely hard to shake the vines. As Ani ventures closer to her wedding date, those vines become suffocating and Ani feels like she has to revisit the past in order to shape her future….
This novel is bleak. I had no idea now bleak until I started reading it. There is no happiness in this novel. Ani isn’t happy – she’s far from it. The damage she received in her teenage years have molded her into this unlikable character – her life is frivolous and designer, by the New York handbook. She didn’t come out on the other side of her trauma as a survivor, she came out wounded and angry and bitter because of it. This makes for an unlikeable character but an immensely readable book.
The trauma(s) at the centre of this story are jarring. Trigger warning for those readers out there – be forewarned. Sexual assault and death are the themes that ring straight through Ani’s story. I didn’t know about one of them and when it started to play out in the novel, it felt like ice water was dripping down my back. I felt uneasy and sick, as I normally do reading about (view spoiler) in such gruesome detail. This novel isn’t for the faint of heart.
The characters here are all unlikeable – there isn’t one who I was rooting for. They are all damaged – mostly by the same event. Each character brought their own to the story. My one and only gripe: sometimes it got hard to differentiate between Ani’s former classmates. There were too many in the ‘popular crowd’ she used to hang out with. A noteable character for me was Ani’s teenage friend (whose name escapes me now). His arc …. wow.
This novel is told in duel Ani perspectives – from her present life in New York to her past life at high school. One is more captivating than the other (her high school life) but it’s only through those flashbacks that we get an accurate portrayal of why Ani is the way she is in her present life. I can see how this could be offputting to some.
Overall, a dark read. Do not engage if you want lightheartedness. I repeat, do not engage. But for me? An ‘out of this park’ novel.