Not the next Gone Girl: Luckiest girl alive by Jessica Knoll

3:31:00 AM

Luckiest girl alive reese witherspoon, next gone girl review
This year I promised myself I wouldn't finish reading any book that I didn't like. My nightstand looks sad, piled with discarded books waiting to be donated to my local library.

Sometimes I grab a bag of chips, and the next moment it is empty. Enough crunch and salt to keep me going, but staring into the silver depth of the empty package, I always think: why did I do that?
Luckiest girl alive by Jessica Knoll I read it in three days, but it left me with the same unsatisfying reaction. Regretful even.

TifAni FaNelli's story ( I don't get why the name is spelled with the capitals) starts like the ending of a Sophie Kinsella book, the perfect life, a girls dream come true. Ani has managed to climb up from her middle class upbringing, she is  engaged to a blue blood golden boy Luke Harris, and made it to editor at Women's Magazine. She is dieting to fit into her perfect dress, showing around her huge emerald and trying to get into the good graces of her future mother in law.
But happy Ani is not. For starters her golden boy is way too vanilla for her, Ani likes her sex rough and punishing .

Building a character is a tricky thing. To make a imagined person pop the reader must recognize some aspects of its personality and at the same time be bewildered and surprised by the revelation given.  Lately, every other book that comes out, has a shout out on the cover by Gillian Flynn, and that is no coincidence. She managed to create Amy, a voice that that made you smack your forehead in recognition and and the same time left you disgusted by her otherness. I don't know if every other female writer suddenly started churning out flawed, complex and destructive characters. Or editors picked up every next Amy or if it just  PR wheels spinning. Gone girl is gone, admit it, even Gillain cannot recreate the phenomenon.

Complicated is the crucial word. To create a complicated character, a writer has to show us different sides, contradictions. etc but when the parts don't make the sum, the character crumbles.
It can be infuriating.
So who is this Ani/TifAni? A real mean girl, not the fun kind. She typecast people, identifying them by brands of clothing they wear, (a bit retro, American Psycho much?) We see the world through her eyes, and it is a confusing mess. Despicable people are meant to be sympathetic and the rest is quickly looked down upon. Even how she sees herself is mystifying. Throughout her weight is referenced,  in one chapter it seems she is a bit overweight, in another she is way too skinny. I understand, women have this crazy thing going, seeing themselves rarely as they are seen, but using it in a narrative is just baffling.

So, strike one against The Luckiest girl alive is the trouble of getting this girl. Is she a psycho? A social climber? Confused? Or simply damaged?

There is something to say for delaying gratification in plot. One of the best books I ever read is The Honorary consul by Graham Green. He managed a extremely tricky thing in the narrative; keeping distance between the main character and the reader only to smack you with a flood of emotions and compassion once you reach the last chapter. It is a very dangerous trick. And I have the feeling Jessica Knoll wanted to accomplish it.
She is slow in defining the genre of this book. Am I reading chick-lit? I was asking myself. Why compare it to Gone Girl,  putting dark rose on the cover, if it is just the story of a girl marrying the wrong guy?
But then the trauma reveals itself.

While attending freshman year at Bradley School, smack in the middle of a Philadelphia old money conclave, TifAni experienced not one, but two traumatic events.

For the sake of the book I will not go into what happens. But the way it's done is quite shocking, and works.
It works for one chapter. A twist, that elusive thing every writer yearns for.
But a twist is not enough, you have to sustain the promise of a twist.


Jessica Knoll worked as editor for Cosmopolitan. Magazines that are not known for investigative journalism have a standard way of presenting hot button issues. They look for people that live through these often traumatic experinces, interview them, and paste together a series of first person narratives. It is a way of putting the issue before the reader, staying current, but at the same time avoiding a viewpoint, and the risk that comes when you dig deep, looking for a truth that is hidden. Avoiding controversy while swimming in cesspool.
The issues that Luckiest girl alive brings up deserve to be explored, they are important, current, horrifying and excruciating.


The problem with these articles is that the eyewitness is a conductor into an event. We remember the issue, the event, we forget the person who told us about it. They never become real.
And The luckiest girl alive is a magazine article transformed in a book.
Jessica Knoll created Ami out of reactions, a bundle of traits, you could say that her screwed way of seeing the world is due to her victimization . But I felt so much distance from her, that when she manages to get her revenge, I felt pity for the person that she takes it out on. And I assure you, when you read what he had done, this is a very strange reaction.

It is not that I appreciate a good antihero, villain, or a Ripley kind of narrator. Ani is not bad enough to be a villain , she is not nice enough to make you feel anything. She is simplistic and nasty, she has a good excuse for it, and still you don't buy it for one second that she has some redeeming qualities.

Even if Luckiest girl alive is a certainly a page turner, I found it a very antipathetic book. I prefer a bag of chips to be honest.

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