Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE. 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 fiancĂ©, 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?"
TifAni, or Ani as she goes by now, seems to have it all in her glamorous New York life. She has a wealthy fiancĂ©  an upcoming Nantucket wedding, a fabulous job at a famous New York magazine, and money to spend on all of the latest fashions.  But she has a secret past. She grew up outside Philadelphia and attended school at the prestigious Bradley School deep in the heart of the Main Line. Even though Ani's family lives in the outskirts of the Main Line, Ani's mother was hoping she would brush elbows with children from old money. Well, her plan worked, but a major tragedy occurred at The Bradley School, one that directly involved Ani.  All of her secrets will come to the surface again when a documentary is being made to commemorate the horrible events that occurred at The Bradley School.  She is hoping the documentary will help her find some closure; however, as her wedding nears, she is finding herself and her well-kept facade unraveling a bit.  Jessica Knoll's debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, is captivating.  For me, it was chick-lit meets something darker, which made for an addicting beach read.

Knoll does a good job creating a main character that I don't necessarily like, but I just had to know what was going to happen to Ani and what moves she was going to make in Luckiest Girl Alive. She really says and does some despicable things, but I cared about her.  When she started at The Bradley School, she just wanted to fit in and was a vulnerable teenager.  The mean girl behavior she had to deal with and the horrible guys in her school I thought would push her to transfer, but she kept with it. She befriended a fellow outcast, Arthur, who is a bit of a tortured soul. I sort of felt the dark cloud hanging over Ani's head and unfortunately some horrible things happen to her during her experiences at The Bradley School...experiences that will forever shape her future.

Luckiest Girl Alive is told through the use of flashback to Ani's high school days and then it jumps back to present day. Presently, Ani is working in a New York magazine, essentially living her dream. She has the life she has always dreamed of, but her past is a dark shadow following her around. She tries hard to mold herself into someone that can't be hurt, but we all know that is just for appearances. It was interesting to see how Ani behaves in the present versus the flashbacks to her high school self. I enjoyed how Knoll let the story gently unfold by interweaving the present and the past.

So, I live in the outskirts of the Main Line, where a great majority of this story is told, and I was completely blown away by Knoll's descriptions of the its people and the landmarks.  Knoll herself attended a private school about three miles from my house, so it was equal parts fascinating as well as terrifying to hear her describe my neighborhood.  She didn't change a thing. Everything down to the restaurants (Yang Ming!), the street names (Lancaster Ave!), and the local hangouts (Peace of Pizza!) It was all very, very accurate. So, for me that added an extra punch to Luckiest Girl Alive.

The writing in this book was what kept me interested. Ani's voice is extremely strong and almost stream of consciousness at times. I kept wondering if she was a reliable narrator or not, but either way, I was intrigued. I can see why there are many comparisons being made to Gone Girl in that Ani and Amy have many similarities and similar voices, but I'd say that's where the comparison ends. Luckiest Girl Alive had some plot twists and was dark; however, the pacing wasn't as break-neck as I would have liked or nearly as suspenseful. So, that's why I recommend it as a chick-lit meets mystery/thriller sort of summer read for fans who don't mind something a bit darker.

With that said, I have my eye on debut writer, Jessica Knoll. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. And I am dying to know if they will film this future movie in my neighborhood! 



6 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to hear that you enjoyed this one, Christina!! I think Knoll's writing is fantastic; she makes us fall in love with a character that we might otherwise gossip about behind her back - ha! I also love that you had a personal connection to this story, through its setting; I can't believe you know Peace of Pizza!! I want to visit now. :) Great review and I hope you have a great day.

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    1. Yes! Thanks for the recommendation, Tara! After I read your review and saw Reese Witherspoon's endorsement, I knew I had to check this one out, especially since it takes place where I live! And yes to Peace of Pizza...it's fantastic! :) I used to hang out there a lot back in the day. Thanks for the visiting!

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  2. I don't think this book is for me (I have to like my protagonists and I'm not sure I'd like Ani) but I'll have to look into ordering it for the library's fiction collection. That is cool that you were able to relate to the setting since you live in that area.

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    1. You might not enjoy Ani, but she is really compelling in the same way that Amy from Gone Girl is...have you read Gone Girl, Christina? I loved the fact that I knew all the landmarks in the story....creepy but cool! Thanks for visiting, Christina and I wrote you an email back about the genre of the story....hope it helped!

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  3. I really liked the idea of this one at first - and I loved Knoll's writing! - but overall I felt that the story fell a little flat - maybe it tried to be too many things all at once? Very cool that you know the setting so well!

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    1. I really enjoyed Knoll's writing as well! I agree that the pacing was off at some points, but I think the fact that I am so familiar with the setting really made it even more enjoyable for me. Thanks for visiting, Leanna!

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