Originally published September 2015
So what’s it like to be the luckiest girl alive? For Ani, really not all that lucky.
Jessica Knoll’s “Luckiest Girl Alive” is an amalgam of coming-of-age topics rolled into one—wanting to fit in, being bullied, sexual assault, school shootings and loving the wrong guy—or guys. At the heart of it is Ani, otherwise known as TifAni FaNelli, a young woman on the verge of a trophy marriage who has yet to sort out the demons of her past.
And it’s the kind of book readers can fly through in just a couple of sittings—engaging, controversial and sad, you are pulled into a world that switches back and forth between present day NYC and Ani’s prep school existence alongside the upper crust of Pennsylvania.
Having read Jon Krakauer’s Missoula earlier this summer, to read a fictional account of gang rape of a fellow inebriated student didn’t seem all that fictional. As a parent, it only strengthens the resolve to make sure my now high-school-aged daughter is self-assured, confident and comfortable in her own skin. I’m fairly certain I’m not the only woman that looks back on her teen years wishing she hadn’t been dependent on the approval of others—and Ani is one of those characters whose desire to be liked was her unfortunate undoing.
Book clubs will spend hours dissecting the red flags in Ani’s childhood—the lack of a strong paternal figure, her own mother’s desire to be something she’s not, the teacher that thought he was doing the right thing but JEEBUS MR. LARSON GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS.
Then there’s Ani’s adult existence, as the future Mrs. Luke Harrison. It’s not until the end of the novel that readers get some truly poignant moments as her relationship with Luke is dissected to the core, and it’s bittersweet. If I say much more, I’ll give it away, but I will say the ending will disappoint some and please others—again, great book club fodder. Count me in with those that approve of the the book’s close.
A great weekend read—fast paced, topical and one you’ll encourage a friend to pick up.