- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1476789649
- ISBN-13: 978-1476789644
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3,407 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel Paperback – April 5, 2016
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“[A] huge summer read . . . one of those great stories that you can’t put down!”— Reese Witherspoon, InStyle
“The perfect page-turner to start your summer.”—People (Book of the Week)
“Dark, twisty . . . razor-sharp writing . . . propulsive prose . . . [The] reveal is a real doozy—a legitimately shocking, completely unputdownable sequence that unfolds like a slow-motion horror film. It instantly elevates Luckiest Girl . . . and that momentum keeps going until its final pages.”—EW
“Loved Gone Girl? We promise [Luckiest Girl Alive is] just as addictive.”—Good Housekeeping
“A pulse-pounding, jaw-dropping novel about how tragedy twists and shapes lives.”—InTouch (A-)
“A knockout debut novel . . . completely enthralling . . . devilishly dark and fun.”—Publishers Weekly
“[Ani FaNelli is] a cross between Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne. . . . Knoll’s debut truly delivers and will keep readers engaged until the end.”—Library Journal
“This is going to be the book you insist all your friends read this summer. . . . [A] clever, cunning satire on the female condition in the 21st century.”—Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“When Ani FaNelli wants something, she gets it: the job, the body, the man. What starts as a Mean Girls-seeming story line transforms into something so dark, so plot-twistingly intense that…well, actually, no spoilers here.” —Marie Claire
“Your next book.”—People StyleWatch
About the Author
Jessica Knoll is the New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive, which has been optioned for film by Lionsgate with Reese Witherspoon set to produce. She has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and the articles editor at Self. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her bulldog, Beatrice. The Favorite Sister is her second novel.
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Knoll has written an intriguing story, even if Ani is cold, manipulative, and cruel for sport. Knoll tries to justify these bad qualities by linking it back to her trauma, but as a survivor myself, I feel these qualities are a product of poor character and not necessarily trauma induced. You can survive trauma and still be loving and kind, and surviving trauma doesn't automatically give you a pass to say and do terrible things.
It's difficult to like adult Ani, who narrates the novel with heavy doses of snark and bitterness. She's obsessed with her weight (she's desperate to fit into a size 0 dress for her rehearsal dinner), with wearing the right designer clothes (the wrong ones can peg her as a phony), with using the right words ("nice to see you" is right; "nice to meet you" is wrong), and with cultivating a life where she seems cool and self-possessed and comfortable and always in control, even when she never is. The problem is, it's exhausting trying to keep up with this image of herself. And even before I knew what had happened to her back in 2001, I saw Ani as an angst-ridden, over-aged teenager playing high school games to impress the competition.
Once the truth comes out - and it comes out very slowly - Ani's behavior makes sense. Knoll reveals Ani's story through a number of flash-backs, in which she describes the party that almost undid her, the friends who betrayed her, and the "incident" that forever defined her as both a victim and a villain. She did things back then that she can't put behind her, and things were done to her that she can't get past. In the novel, Ani is offered a chance to participate in a documentary being made about the incident at Bradley back in 2001 - she will have an opportunity to tell her side of the story. Luke isn't crazy about the idea (he would prefer she never talk about what happened back then), but Ani is convinced this is her one chance to finally move beyond what happened. She wants to look perfect on film, thin and gorgeous with Luke's gigantic rock on her finger demonstrating how perfect her life has turned out, in spite of what happened - after all, success is the best revenge, right? But has Ani really been successful? Is her life anywhere close to perfect? And is there any hope for her romance with Luke when she can hardly stand the sight of him?
Ultimately, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE is about how hard it is to know ourselves in a world that's all about appearances and one-upping each other. Ani is convinced that a lot of money, an impressive job, and a blue blood fiancé are the things she needs to protect her from the horrors of the world. If everybody envies her, if they believe she has it all, she will no longer be either a victim or a pariah. But what she learns is that there is no protection from the reality of what really happens to us. Ani wants to move beyond her own tragedy without ever really seeing it for what it was, without ever owning her own role in it. And that's what haunts her.
I found myself drawn into this novel in ways that were intensely personal. While I couldn't identify with Ani's chic, moneyed lifestyle (I have never heard of many of the designers she covets, and her obsession with thinness and money are definitely off-putting), I did understand what it feels like to be a teenager who's an outsider - things haven't changed all that much since I was fourteen and trying to fit in. Ani tries to be someone she isn't, because she can't come to terms with who she really is. And that's something all of us can identify with. This is a sad, devastating story of a young woman's coming of age, a coming-of-age that has been delayed for thirteen years.
This is a brilliantly written novel with an identifiable if unlikable narrator who proves in the end that it is possible to take charge of your own life, even in the face of a cold and uncaring world. Growing up isn't easy for any of us. Ani takes a while to get it right, but she does get it right. I highly recommend LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE.
Was Ani successful as a result of this high class education? The first three chapters seem positive. Her fiancé is wealthy with an ultra wealthy family as back up. There is no desire that cannot be fulfilled with money. But she is uneasy and insecure; her experiences at an exclusive high school have left scars that mar her present life. As a new student that did not quite fit in at her new school, she experienced snobbery and forms of verbal and physical abuse that might be called hazing. That occurred inside the school. As she tried to fit in during out of school parties, things went horribly wrong with life and death consequences.
Ani tells her story in alternating chapters that relate her life in the present then in the following chapter reveal her reflections of the past. This would seem to be no problem; the past is dead, the present is great, and the future can only get better. But something happened at the school, an event so life changing for so many that there is a project in the works where students and teachers from the school will be interviewed about what happened then and where the participants from the past are now. There will be a documentary. Ani is willing… sort of. Mom is horrified and thinks the past should stay past. Ani's fiancé is not happy at all; there might be damage to the reputation of an old money family.
The description of Ani’s present life, especially in the first three chapters was way beyond boring and dull for me. But if the reader is a clothing, jewelry, or fashion designer, these chapters might be great. The early chapters about her attempts to fit in at school should be very interesting to young adult readers who are still close to that experience. The horrific events described at the school are unfortunately a reflection of the past decade of violence. The last few chapters of the book tie together the two lives of Ani and try to settle her insecurities to the extent she can go further. There is an interesting guide at the end for readers who wish to select the book for a reading group. I will recommend this book as one title in a list I have made for my classes in which students study English as a second language.