Luckiest Girl Alive
Released: May 12, 2015
“You only scream when you’re finally safe.”
This was one of those books I was so excited about reading and couldn’t wait to open. It seemed to have rave reviews and a general thought that everyone liked it. However, I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me loves what it did, and part of me was left feeling a little disappointed.
Let’s dive in.
The book is told from two different time periods. It swaps back and forth between Ani FaNelli at age 28, and TifAni Fanellis at age 14. Starting out, Ani seems like a superficial girl. It seems like she only cares about status, who she is, money, and looks. She works at a magazine in NYC, is engaged to a ruch, handsome fiance, and has the appearance of a wealthy woman well put together. However, everything is not as it seems. Ani, pronounced Ah-nee, not Annie, seems cold-hearted and superficial, but it’s not the case. It’s all a face she wears to forget the girl she used to be. We learn that at age 14, TifAni started at the Bradley School, a prestigious school about an hour away from her home. The only reason she starts at the school is because she got kicked out of the Catholic school she attended for smoking pot.
She starts at the school, desperate to fit in and make new friends. She meets Arthur and his gang of outcasts, and she also meets Hilary and Olivia, two of the most popular girls in school, and their jock friends. She finds her AP English teacher and cross country coach, Mr. Larson, intriguing. She makes friends with hot new boy Liam on both of their first days, and instantly becomes part of the it-crowd. Which, of course, always has consequences. Young TifAni gets invited to a party with Liam, Dean, and Peyton, three of the most popular guys in school, and things get out of hand. TifAni has a crush on Liam, and hopes to get a jump start on their relationship, however, she consumes too much alcohol and gets raped by all three boys. In a series on flashbacks from the night, we get to hear snippets of what happened. This part of the book was so well written I felt uncomfortable even reading it. Knoll writes it as if you are TifAni, its told in snippets, like you’re blacked out as much as she is. You get to hear what happened, but only bits and pieces. It’s uncomfortable, torturous even. Of course, none of the boys think anything bad happened, just another wild party.
This event is something that Ani has never told anyone, except family and her fiance, Luke. Luke likes to pretend that time in her life didn’t happen. He doesn’t want to know TifAni, only the picture perfect Ani that she has become. We learn that Ani has been invited back to her hometown to do a documentary on the Bradley School and “what happened”. Luke doesn’t want Ani to go, and this puts a strain on their relationship. She wants to tell her side of the story. From this point, we think that they are referring to the rape, but is that all Ani has to tell?
There’s a twist near the middle-end of the book that I didn’t see coming, and I found it quite refreshing. It made a lot more things in the flash forward sequences make sense. Looking back on it now, all the clues to the twist were right in front of us. I just didn’t pick up on the information. I actually re-read the chapter with this particular event in it over twice, because I found it to be one of the better parts of the book.
Let’s talk about TifAni/Ani. It’s hard for me not to relate to a character of a book I’m reading. There’s usually some way I can find to relate and imagine myself as them, TifAni/Ani were no different. There were parts of each of them that I could find myself saying, I can understand that, or I know why you did that. It’s easy to see some of the actions of the protagonist as someone you can relate to. That being said, she was not my favorite character. She was almost insufferable at times, some of the things she said and did I found myself being annoyed by. She was also very complex, and by the end of the book I had somewhat of a level of respect. The stories of the characters from TifAni’s past at the Bradley School were all excellent. They were well written, deep, and defined. I couldn’t relate or really get into any of Ani’s friends, maybe because I found them annoying, and I found Luke to be almost too hard to read about or deal with. But the kids, Arthur, Sharkface, Teddy, Dean, Liam, Hilary, Olivia, Peyton–they were all excellent written characters. While their actions weren’t always noble, I appreciate how the characters were written and portrayed. It felt very real to me.
I honestly enjoyed reading about TifAni as a teenager more than I did Ani as an adult. I found myself looking forward to those chapters, and trying to just make it through when Ani was an adult, for the most part. As I said previously though, I think most of it was the person Ani was trying to be more than the writing itself.
This book was compared to Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl, and the main characters were supposed to be very much alike. I didn’t get this comparison, I feel as though these are two very different books, and two very different women. Each stands on their own as someone and each has their own story. But I don’t think that that is a comparison that should be made. That’s just my opinion though!
This is a book I would recommend to people. Perhaps not everyone I know, but I enjoyed reading it and found myself not wanting it to end. The ending, I felt, could have been much better, but a part of me also loved how it ended. I won’t say, in hopes that you will read it and give an opinion on how it was done as well, but I would say give this book a try. Maybe read books you know you really want to first, but it’s definitely worth a read.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5