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May 03, 2016

The Luckiest Girl Alive

The Luckiest Girl AliveThe Luckiest Girl Alive

By: Jessica Knoll

When a book comes out that is supposed to be “the next Gone Girl”, I usually roll my eyes and ignore the book.  The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll fell into this category for me – until last month.  This book (thankfully) lived up to its own hype.  It was well written, compelling and so much more than “chick lit”.  I didn’t just read it, I inhaled it.

The Luckiest Girl Alive is TifAni (Ani) FaNelli.  (And yes, that’s how she spells her name.)  The novel begins with Ani’s life in present day New York City, with her balancing a career at a women’s magazine and wedding planning to the world’s most perfect man.   When Ani starts telling her story, you might not like her – and that’s OK!   She’s successful, shallow and materialistic.  Underneath her protective shell of cynicism and Chanel lies a woman struggling to come to terms with tragic events in her past.  She feels drawn to move forward with her fiancé, but also an undeniable pull to revisit her painful past.

Ani shows her vulnerability through flashbacks to her early high school days in Eastern Pennsylvania.   A careless mistake gets Ani kicked out of public school and she’s taken to private school in a posh Philadelphia suburb.  To put it mildly, this was not an easy transition for Ani.  Department store sweaters will no longer do, and even her mom’s red Mercedes shows their lacking social status.

Ani struggles to make new friends and fit in with the popular crowd.  She’s befriended by the outcasts, but craves the attention of the school’s elite.  She joins the track team, befriends her English teacher and falls in love with the only other new kid in school.  Through these flashbacks you learn about Ani’s insecurities, fears, family and friends.  This is when you invest in her character.

While this is a fast, suspenseful read, it’s not a light one.  Ani hides painful secrets, and that is why I couldn’t put this book down – I just had to know what happened to her.  There are major revelations and twists that define the story, and I don’t want to give those away here.   Trust me, this book should be read without knowing the ending.  You need to learn Ani’s secrets from Ani.

Looking for more?  Check out these read-a-likes – The Rottweiler by Ruth Rendell, Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and The Slow Moon by Elizabeth Cox.

Review By: Kirsten Edwards