Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
I struggled with this one. At its base it’s not a poorly written book. There’s a lot of potential but it just doesn’t work out. It’s an explosion of violence, cruelty, humiliation and when all that was done I still wasn’t sure exactly what the book was aiming to be at the end.
Ani is a grown woman with a good job, a handsome rich fiancé that anyone would want, a pill-popping bestie and a past she’s struggled to put behind her. Years ago she was TifAni Fanelli (and I hate to nitpick but the TifAni spelling really bugged me) a wrong side of the tracks kind girl whose money chasing mother puts her in a ritzy rich kids kind of school.
BEWARE SLIGHT SPOILERS AND SOME TRIGGER WARNINGS ARE COMING:
The book’s back describes what happens to her as humiliation and that’s only part of it. She’s raped by multiple boys at a party and what comes after is some torture and humiliation at the hands of multiple students that I’m serious… These kids could be torturing prisoners of war. That was one of the big knocks against the book for me besides getting tired of the use of rape as a way to “humiliate” female characters.
It got to the point where I didn’t find it believable that these kids could get away with it. I mean there’s one really horrible scene where a teacher piles on in front of the whole class and the only kid that tries to defend her winds up expelled!
Her father is absent to say the least and her mother is awful. There again I couldn’t help think that a woman so obsessed with money like her mother is presented would blame her daughter instead of suing the crap out of those kids and the school. But that’s just me. It all culminates in a brutal act of school violence that I didn’t see coming. The violence targets the bullies and leaves TifAni with a moral dilemma choice that she’s still thinking about all those years later. A horrible scene but sadly the most interesting part of the book.
Meanwhile Ani’s life in the present day is… pretty basic. She struggles with feelings for a teacher who was the one nice person but still didn’t help her. Her fiancé is an ass and that’s pretty obvious. Other than as a basis to tell the story of her past I’m not sure the present day added much. Will Ani move on?
There is actually a beat at the end where you wonder. It’s the end though so it’s left up in the air and doesn’t go anywhere. I guess you can make your own decisions about that one but I was so ready for the book to be over. There were no characters that I liked. Even Ani left me cold. The book cover compares it to Gone Girl so maybe the author was going for the Amy Dunne vibe but it didn’t work out at all with me.
Trigger Warnings: Rape, Drugs, Extreme Violence in a School, Bullying
Recommend: No. Honestly if you’re looking for something like this I’d just go back and read more Gillian Flynn.