Thursday, May 14, 2015

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Release Date - May 12, 2015
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis

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 fianc√©, 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?
Perfection. Perception. Reality. Luckiest Girl Alive is a violent, dark look at a women who strives to appear perfect to everyone else, even while the reality is anything but perfect. The mystery as to the why of Ani's behaviour, and what happened on that fateful day, drives this story with it's rapid pace and leaves you reeling with each truth that is revealed.

One of this book's strengths is the ability it has to make you keep reading. The format used to weave the story, particularly with divulging information in piecemeal chunks, creates a rabid like frenzy to know what is going to happen next. You're compelled to find out the truth behind Ani's story, every last brutal truth. Jessica Knoll uses this tool as part of the pacing, and it's certainly effective. The story is a clipped, fast read that is heightened by a few sharp twists in the story that feel like explosions. There are a few times that the story diverges off the path I had predicted it would take, and this unpredictability kept the tension haunting these page taunt and ready to snap.

Ani is an enigma. She pretends and fakes her way through life. She wants desperately to be seen as the woman who has it all. The perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect husband, and the perfect home in New York City. There is almost a desperation around her. A notion that she needs to achieve perfection beyond anything. The pressure women are under to be perfect is reflected in Ani so vividly. Women are expected to excel in work life, home life, and have a social life and all while looking stunning. This pressure is both internally and externally pressed upon Ani, and it will ring true to so many of the women reading. This paints a darker picture behind those desires and how the pressure can eventually make you crack.

This book has more than it's fair share moral grey area. Ani, in particular, is morally complex. I found myself fascinated by her, and as the story progressed that fascination never lessened. As each truth was revealed, and another layer of Ani brought to light, my opinion of her changed. My emotions ran the full spectrum from sympathy, repulsion, admiration, understanding and everything in between. She does and thinks so many things that women are told they shouldn't feel or think. As a result of this, I anticipate strong reactions to her character. Female characters like Ani, ones who are flawed, damaged, perhaps even a little dangerous, are always a breath of fresh air, and Jessica Knoll creates one intense, if destructive, heroine. There is a prickly edge to her that will have many deeming her unlikeable. I hold the belief that you do not need to like a character to enjoy a book. A character does not have to make your choices for you to be enthralled, and Ani, like Amy Dunne before her, is a stunning example of that.

This is one of those books you'll want to discuss and dissect over wine with girlfriends, and will sure to be on a whole slew of summer must read lists. There will be plenty of conversation to be had upon finishing this novel. It's one that is going to cause strong feelings within people and much debate. It packs a punch, and like it's heroine, is unapologetic about doing so. 

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