Luckiest Girl Alive was released in May 2015, but I only got around to reading it in December. If I had to choose, I’d say it was my favorite book from last year.
Luckiest Girl Alive is told through the unlikable protagonist, TifAni FaNelli. (Yes, the caps are supposed to be like that.) The novel opens with her—now transformed into chic Manhattanite, Ani FaNelli—adding items to her wedding registry, while thinking about stabbing her fiancé.
The Manhattan backdrop and her job at a women’s magazine shows the pressures, materialistic aspects, and yes, the fun elements of big city reality (kudos to Knoll for the Physique 57 shout out). But her desperate need to keep her carefully crafted life reeks through the story, with a fierceness that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.
Knoll writes about the darker, vicious side to women. And while Ani has been through serious tragedies, (which Knoll reveals through flashbacks in alternating chapters) Ani never lets herself float in the default setting of conscious self-loathing or self-pity. Instead, she transforms herself into a woman she thinks others might envy—the job and the WASP banker fiancé are all symbols of what she thinks she wants.
“But a Kate could never give Luke what I give him, and that’s the edge. Rusted and bacteria ridden, I’m the blade that nicks at the perfectly hemmed seams of Luke’s star quarterback life, threatening to shred it apart. And he likes that threat, the possibility of my danger. But he doesn’t really want to see what I can do, the ragged holes I can open. I’ve spent most of our relationship scratching the surface, experimenting with the pressure, how much is too much before I draw blood? I’m getting tired.”
Writing about mental health helped me understand Ani. From the beginning, it’s easy to predict what might have happened to her, based on the author’s storytelling maneuvers.
Her shrewd voice, desperate ambition, desires, and insecurity give the reader an uncomfortable, darkly funny, and honest portrayal.
There is no one correct feeling to have about her, because she is the ultimate anti-heroine. Similar to Don Draper or Frank Underwood, I root for her even though it’s questionable whether or not I should.
Ani’s story is what it would be like if an average Jersey shore girl tried to step into Lauren Santo Domingo’s world. The attempt would require meticulous observation, patience, and preparation. Ani has been studying for years.
The recommendation is true. If you liked Gillian Flynn, you’ll love Luckiest Girl Alive. Jessica Knoll is a voice I will be following…forever?
It was a perfect edgy read for my dark little heart.