Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is one of those books from my Gossip Girl reading challenge, and frankly, it’s my favorite from the list so far.

Luckiest Girl AliveThe cover of Luckiest Girl Alive boasts a review from author Megan Abbott, calling the book “legitimately shocking, completely unputdownable.” Yes, this book is truly so good that other authors are making up words to describe it.

The book tells the story of 28-year-old Ani FaNelli, who has spent the second half of her life trying to forget the events of her first year at a prestigious private high school in Pennsylvania. As a new student at the school, Ani (then called TifAni), wanted nothing more than to fit in with the ultra-wealthy popular clique. When the popular kids begin to take an interest in TifAni, she can’t believe it, and she’ll do anything she can to hold on to her spot on the social hierarchy.

Fast-forward 14 years, and Ani is still struggling to deal with the fallout of that fateful year of high school. Now a successful magazine editor in New York City, Ani is still searching for that perfect something to help her feel as if she’s moved on and left TifAni behind. On the outside, Ani has entirely reinvented herself, but on the inside, she’s still struggling to make peace and move forward. The premise is gripping on it’s own, but as author Jessica Knoll reveals tragedy after tragedy, the story really does become impossible to put down.

Books Like Gone Girl: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Luckiest Girl Alive: A NovelLuckiest Girl Alive: A Novel

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll has been compared to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, and when it comes to pacing, that’s certainly true.

But when it comes to content, Luckiest Girl Alive is more than those books, because Luckiest Girl Alive touches deeply on the topic of the way women are treated in today’s society. Don’t get me wrong, Luckiest Girl Alive is absolutely a fast-paced page turner, but the underlying message speaks to the powerlessness young women are apt to feel in the face of the threat of becoming a social outcast.

The story is more than just a high-energy read. It’s a story about a power struggle, about social constraints, about double standards, and about redemption.

I loved Gone Girl and I loved Girl on the Train, but I loved Luckiest Girl Alive even more.

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Gone GirlGone GirlThe Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train

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Why Did I Love Luckiest Girl Alive?

Now you must be asking why. Why did I love Luckiest Girl Alive more than those other two books?

I liked Luckiest Girl Alive because it grabbed some of the most basic universal truths and paired them with some of the most gripping realities of our modern world. Like TifAni, we all want to fit in with our peers—especially during adolescence—and if we’re honest with ourselves, some of the things we’ve done to fit in are probably truly cringe worthy.

Knoll takes that feeling of being on the outside and pairs it with some of the most gruesome, appalling tragedies present in our modern-day society. The result creates the absolute train wreck of Ani’s life, which is at once fascinating and disturbingly raw. It’s one of those books that truly is “unputdownable,” because you can’t look away.

Jessica Knoll’s Skill With Luckiest Girl Alive

That’s due in part to Knoll’s extreme skill in crafting deep, multifaceted, and relatable characters. As a teenager in a new school, any of us could have been Ani. As an adult trying to forget the past, any of us could be Ani. She’s real, she’s raw, and she speaks to many issues we face every day.

As a mother of two, there truly aren’t very  many books which I whip through in a few days, but Luckiest Girl Alive was one of them. The first-person point of view grabbed me from the first page, and Ani’s unique life circumstances held me til the end. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, and to date, it’s my favorite from the Blair Waldorf book list.

Here’s more about author Jessica Knoll and the role her own childhood experience played in the plot of this book. Warning, this link has spoilers, but it makes the story all the more real.

Have you ever read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll? What did you think?

If you liked Luckiest Girl Alive, you might like:

 The Good Girl Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel Pretty Girls

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