Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
(Simon & Schuster, 2015, 341 pages)
I’m not sure I would have picked up Luckiest Girl Alive if it wasn’t the selection for one of my book clubs. This title is regularly compared to Gone Girl because there are a few similarities: the unlikable protagonist and the overall dark tone of the book. There are some pretty dark/disturbing scenes in the book, one of those being the gang rape of a high school freshman. I won’t give any further information because I was definitely surprised at the direction the book took (you’re not clued into it in the book synopsis at all).
Ani FaNelli works at a Cosmopolitan-style magazine in Manhattan. She is engaged to a handsome man from old money and she is “this close” to having the life she has been striving for since high school. Ani has something of a dark past. After graduating from high school she made the effort to reinvent herself, changing her name and painstakingly transforming herself into someone who seems, in every way, to have come from a high society background. Now Ani is in the position where she is about to revisit an aspect of her past in a high-profile way on her own terms. It’s something she needs to do, even though her fiancé disagrees.
The book flashes back and forth between the present and Ani’s past as a high schooler. The reader only gradually gets clued into what has made Ani into the woman she is today. She’s cold and calculating and it’s only over time that the reader starts to see why.
Knoll does a really good job portraying Ani as snarky and unlikable woman. She’s very much like Gillian Flynn in that way. If you’re looking for an escapist-type of read, this will do it for you because you’ll want to find out what really happened to Ani as a teenager. This much-hyped book surprisingly delivered as far as keeping me on my toes.