Jessica Knoll’s novel Luckiest Girl Alive kicks off the author’s career as a novelist. Her book is an intriguing and disturbing read that looks at the choices a teenager made and the consequences of these choices throughout her life.
The story starts with an introduction to the narrator, TifAni FaNelli, in a startling fashion. She is adding to her wedding registry with her fiancé; a seemingly harmless and even endearing activity. However, with a first person narration, the reader quickly learns of TifAni’s distaste for wedding shopping and further sees that TifAni fantasizes about killing her fiancé with the knives they are looking at. TifAni, who goes by Ani, continues with her inner ramblings and adds to the confusion as she states:
“…my fiancé. That word didn’t bother me so much as the one that came after it. Husband. That Word laced the corset tighter, crushing organs, sending panic into my throat with the bright beat of a distress signal.”
In the first page alone, Ani becomes a dark but interesting character that the reader feels compelled to learn more about.
As the chapter comes to a close, the reader is transported back to a young Ani as she enters ninth grade at a private high school. From this point on, the book flips between the past where Ani makes her choices and the present where she must live with what she has done and what was done to her.
The book explores the generic themes of coming of age and bullying in completely non-generic ways. Horrible events define Ani’s life while her mother only cares about the societal status of her child and her father is barely present.
While Knoll approached these themes in an interesting way, the execution was sub-par. By adding in so many twists of varying topics, it took away from the character Ani and her life experiences. Too much happened at once to gain a common perspective with the narrator and paled some of the events that should have taken a leading role in the novel.
With that said, it was an intriguing novel throughout as the flip between past and present events constantly kept me waiting to see what happened to Ani and what she would do. Although not always a likeable character, Ani was relatable and just wanted what everyone else wants; a happy life.
This novel invites the reader to think about what happens behind closed doors and has them consider the fact that being the luckiest girl alive may not be the luckiest girl at all.
Jessica Knoll is a New York Times bestselling author who has worked as a senior editor at Cosmopolitan and as an articles editor at SELF. Her newest novel, The Favourite Sister is set to be released in May of 2018.