2016 Reading List #34: Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

I didn’t know much about Luckiest Girl Alive until this past March, when author Jessica Knoll made headlines for revealing that the sexual assault in this novel is based on an experience she had as a high school student (you can read Knoll’s moving essay from Lenny here).

To be honest, I’m always very wary of reading current bestsellers, so I was slow to approach this novel. I’ve been let down many times by what Entertainment Weekly recommends (though, to be fair, they’re the reason I read Gone Girl, but that’s an exception). But when I had a gift card to spend, I decided to give this book a try. Thankfully, this was a worthwhile reading experience.

Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of 28-year-old TifAni FaNelli, a woman hell bent on working her way toward a WASPy life in New York City. She’s soon to be married, has a good job working for a women’s magazine, and does her best to erase her lower class life by dropping the “Tif”from her first name.

Ani is a character who can be hard to love, but the past trauma in her life makes her harsh personality more understandable. The book alternates between chapters in the present and chapters that tell the story of 14-year-old Ani, when she lives through some major life-changing events. We know Ani is somewhat infamous and preparing to star in a documentary, though the event the documentary covers is left ambiguous for most of the novel.

There are bits of Knoll’s writing that irked me (though I think that’s really the fault of a lazy editor), and sometimes the plot is a bit too 0n-the-nose, but I think Knoll is incredibly brave for sharing bits of her own story.

Reese Witherspoon’s production company bought the film rights to the novel before it was even published, and I think the story will work well on screen. I’d also like to throw out a suggestion and say Shiri Appleby of Lifetime’s UnREAL should be cast in the lead role. Just an idea.

Now I’m turning back to Tess of the D’Urbervilles more permanently and trying to keep myself from getting distracted by other reading projects. Wish me luck!


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