Review: ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ by Jessica Knoll [2015]

Greetings, bloggers! I hope you have had wonderful weeks – mine was full of work and job interviews, but somehow last week I managed to absolutely FLY through ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’. This book is plastered all over the front of my local Waterstones at the moment, so when I received it for my birthday last month I couldn’t wait to get stuck in and immediately snuck it to the top of my list. This is the fastest that I’ve managed to get through a novel in a long time because it was an interesting read, however I did have some issues with it.

 

luckiest girl alive

‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ is not by any means ground-breaking, but it is gripping, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. It is also shocking: let me tell you now, the thing? You think you’ve figured out the thing, and then a new, bigger thing comes along and you realise that nothing you’ve been assuming so far is correct. It’s a real surprise when everything starts to kick off. BUT, I won’t get into that any further.

One of my favourite things about this book is how conflicted I feel about the majority of its characters. Ani, our protagonist, is understandably difficult. I like that I don’t particularly like her, but I feel desperately sorry for her. The way that her family and friends begin to close in around her is brilliantly executed, and something that I can definitely relate to. Her journey of acceptance and discovery is compelling and I absolutely adored some of her snarky quips and mean little digs. However, I struggled to connect with Ani. There is absolutely no emotional link there, and on the very first page of the novel she considers the possibility of stabbing her own fiancé in the stomach. This little suggestion so early on in the novel made me think that it was going in a completely different direction. The other characters I mostly disliked, which is not to say that they are not written well. Luke is bland, boring and perhaps a little judgemental, but I can forget him in the face of my hatred for Ani’s mother. The woman is absolutely everything that I hate: a woman so concerned with appearances that she neglects her own child’s pain to hide it. Having said that, she must have been written brilliantly in order to incite such emotion from me!

My biggest, and frankly quite an important problem, was with the way that the novel dealt with such important issues: namely rape and eating disorders. And when I say ‘dealt’ with them, I mean they were thrown in there in an attempt to make the novel more exciting, and then were largely glossed over. Other than her complete emotional disconnect we don’t see any after effect of Ani’s rape, and I would go so far as to venture that her eating disorder was glamourized for the sake of this high-society, hard-working City girl character that the author wants to construct. It feels a little like she is throwing as many things in as possible in order to keep shocking the reader, without any thought as to the deeper underlying issues that could be explored with just one of them.

As for the ending, I thought it was a little lacking. I completely get it, that final line: ‘I’m TifAni Fanelli’ symbolises the circle that our protagonist has completed, and her acceptance of self. It should be impactful and meaningful, but I actually just turned the page and thought ‘oh, is that it?’. I would have liked to see more of TifAni’s life following the final page.

Dear readers, don’t let these issues put you off. I really enjoyed this book, and I would still recommend it despite the problems that I found. If you want to read, enjoy, and not delve any deeper, you probably won’t pick up on most of the things that I have highlighted here. For a debut novel, ‘Luckiest Girl Alive’ is a success.

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