If you’re looking for a really fucked up book to read, look no further than “Luckiest Girl Alive” by Jessica Knoll. This book is not for the squeamish, not for the sensitive, and not something you can easily put down or forget. That being said, I enjoyed this fucked up book.
To some people, being the popular girl in school is the whole point of high school. At whatever price that may be. This is a mindset that Ani carries over into her adult life. When the book starts out, we meet Ani as she is engaged to the perfect guy – smart, attractive, rich, and from a good family with proper lineage. And Ani is a fake-it-until-you-make-it kind of girl that spends all her time projecting this image so no one guesses where she really comes from or what horrors occurred in her past. Even with regards to her perfect fiancé, she keeps her darker thoughts tucked deep down. “I told Luke about that night at a time when he was enamored with me, which is the only time you should ever tell anyone something shameful about yourself – when a person is mad enough about you that disgrace is endearing.” (Luckiest Girl Alive, pg 89).
With a totally unsympathetic mother, it isn’t hard to understand the attitude that Ani takes on life. Ani was a very interesting character. We see her first as this successful woman in New York City, and just have hints about what happened in her past. But then we learn bits and pieces about what happened and how she rose up to be one of the popular girls just to have it all come crashing down. Her ability to cope despite the complete lack of helpful and available adults is astounding. The one teacher that tries to help her she pushes away because she is so unused to kindness that to accept his help seems to her to be a form of weakness. Ani learns that the only person you can count on is yourself. And that is what she builds her life on. “I saw how there was a protection in success and success was defined by threatening the minion on the other end of a cell phone, expensive pumps terrorizing the city, people stepping out of your way simply because you looked like you had more important places to be than they did. Somewhere along the way, a man got tangled up in this definition too. I just had to get to that, I decided, and no one could hurt me again.” (Luckiest Girl Alive, pg 288). In some ways, Ani is one of the strongest characters that I’ve seen. She certainly refuses to let tragedy defeat her, no matter what form it takes.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. It isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. There is a lot of brutally raw and upsetting experiences that Ani lives through in “Luckiest Girl Alive” that those who do not have a strong stomach would likely not enjoy this book. It could also serve as a trigger to those with tragedy in their pasts. But if you can stomach it, I don’t think this is a book you will soon forget. I liked the brutality of Jessica Knoll’s writing and I would be interested to see what else she writes, however, I’m not sure I would pick this up for a reread anytime soon.