Published by Simon & Schuster on May 12th 2015
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 fiancé, 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?
Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of quite the opposite – TifAni FaNelli had a rough start in life to say the least. When we are first introduced to her, she is planning her wedding to a rich blue-bood, working at a top women’s magazine in New York and she seems like she’s living the dream life. However, it soon becomes apparent that that is not the case at all. Ani doesn’t come from a wealthy or prestigious family but is born to an incredibly ambitious mother. Ani gains a scholarship to a top private school but things aren’t at all plain sailing. Ani is hiding demons from the past but they’re about to be brought to the surface again in a new documentary about her school. Ani finally has the chance to share her side of the story to a shocking incidence that took place when she was a teenager but it could cause everything that she has built for herself since to crumble down.
Ani (pronounced Ah-nee) is quite a character. On the surface it looks like she has it all but her bitchy internal monologue make it apparent that she’s something quite different on the inside. At first you think she’ll a superficial bitch, then you’ll read more about her and realise that she’s actually quite vulnerable, but then you keep reading and you start to get confused as to whether she’s actually still just a superficial bitch. She’s a tough character to figure out and I’m sure everyone who’s read the book will have slightly different opinions on her but I personally thought she was an awful character. She went through something traumatic as a child and I appreciate that her adult life was shaped by brutal things that happened to her when she was young but I just couldn’t get over how manipulative and self-absorbed she was. TifAni isn’t a likeable character in the slightest. She’s not the sort of character you’re supposed to like but neither are any of the other characters to be honest. This meant it was a little difficult to connect with the characters and I felt a little distanced from the story. That said, they were all still interesting to read about, but this book really needed a strong plot to carry it through to make up for the lack of character connection and it fell (slightly) short.
I read Luckiest Girl Alive pretty quickly because I was desperate to find out what the big twist in the story would be. However, as page after page went by, I started to think that maybe there wasn’t such a big twist and that I’d already gone past it. This is when the disappointment started to sink in. I was still interested to see where the story ended up but it was evident that I had been misled into thinking this was next Gone Girl. This, in my opinion, is the main problem with this story as the comparison to Gone Girl prepares the reader for the most disturbing of thriller’s and unfortunately that’s not what Luckiest Girl Alive is. There are undoubtedly similarities between Amy Dunne and TifAni Fanelli but TifAni has her own story to tell and thinking that this is going to be the next Gone Girl caused me to be a little disappointed in this book.
In conclusion, Luckiest Girl Alive is a great debut novel, but thinking that this is the next Gone Girl will only leave you disappointed. If you manage to stave away from all that marketing that I’m sure you’ll find the story gripping and exciting. I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘big secret’ was in all honesty. There were a few shocking revelations but once you’ve got into the story and the sort of vibe Jessica Knowles has created then you have an idea of what to expect. There was no one big secret for me and the anticipation for this is what kept me reading, but is also what meant I was disappointed when I finished. There are some disturbing scenes such as bullying, rape and violence these hit you hard so this book definitely isn’t for everyone but if you like a strong female lead (albeit a hated one), and an intriguing story then this is the book for you.
Thank you to Simon Books for sending me a complimentary review copy.