Luckiest Girl Alive is the debut novel of Cosmopolitan magazine editor Jessica Knoll and the latest fiction novel with the ability to hold my attention for more than five minutes. This is a glorious find for a busy working mom, that was once upon a time a literature major and self-proclaimed bibliophile. These days when I have more than a few minutes free from someone demanding my attention, there is not much that is capable of competing with a good (okay, semi-decent) night’s sleep.
From the first page, this mystery/thriller is capable of taking an event as mundane as a couple choosing wedding registry items and making it clear that what you are entering into is actually a gritty character study.
The main character here is far from your typical, likable protagonist. In fact, Ani FaNelli is hardly even relatable for most readers. Her language is offensive and her demeanor is sharp and unrelenting. However, Knoll is masterful at slowly revealing Ani’s true character and motivations.
Ani is painstakingly aware of every possible way she is judged by those that surround her glamorously well-constructed life. She carefully chooses her words, handbags, hair color, and future husband in order to create a perfect persona. While she is equally judgmental in return, the author slowly splices in moments that reveal that Ani’s true basis of judgment has much more to do with how those around her treat and respect others.
Knoll also interlaces in scenes from Ani’s backstory, when she was once known as TifAni, a fourteen year old outsider at an affluent private school. The mystery of Ani’s tragic past slowly unravels as it takes multiple sharp twists and turns.
The subjects taken on in this story are both horrifying and thought provoking. The moral implications that occur when the lines between victims and villains become blurry are especially so. Knoll also delves into how different people deal with tragedy and the difference between overcoming your past and simply circumventing it.
Overall, the story is well written, intriguing, and provocative. Despite this, Knoll has received many negative reviews, due to critics’ comparisons to Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful novel Gone Girl. If you go into Luckiest Girl Alive expecting a Gillian Flynn novel you will probably be confused and disappointed. While Jessica Knoll uses less than pristine female characters and plot twists, her voice and theme in this novel is truly her own unique brand. Go into Luckiest Girl Alive without comparison or altered expectation. It can definitely stand on its own. If you are looking for the next Gillian Flynn, I highly suggest you read one of Flynn’s other novels, besides Gone Girl, which are equally excellent.
I am seriously looking forward to reading more from Jessica Knoll in the future and I’m hoping that this is not the only novel she puts out. I have seen some rumors that they are looking to turn Luckiest Girl Alive into a motion picture and it is listed on IMBD. However, there is no information given on the website as far as a cast or production date. Honestly, I don’t know how well it would translate into a movie without losing all of the delicately crafted character analysis. Hopefully, the movie deal falls through and Jessica Knoll goes on to give us more intriguing page turners instead.