Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

In The Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll rips off the veneer and exposes the harsh reality of women who have been raped. The PTSD episodes. The pretense that everything’s fine here. The impossibility of real intimacy. The rage. The self-doubt. The impossible task of trying to put back together the shattered shards of our spirit, dignity, and self-respect after we have been brutally violated by arrogant, self-entitled, powerful men who know they’ll never be held accountable. . .men who will make us wish we’d never been born if we break our silence and speak the truth.

Jessica Knoll

To all the TifAni FaNellis of the world.
I know.
Jessica Knoll, The Luckiest Girl Alive

The publisher made a mistake suggesting this was another Gone Girl. No. Today, it would be pitched more accurately as the brave, raw, haunting fictionalized memoir of a #MeToo survivor.  Ms. Knoll was gang-raped before she was old enough to drive.  She was an editor at Cosmopolitan and Self before becoming a best-selling author.

Yes, the book gets off to a rough start. Yes, TifAni FaNelli is annoying. The black rose on the cover is a clue that she’s not, in fact, the Luckiest Girl Alive despite how desperately she would like to be.

4 responses to “Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

  1. I wanted to like this book, but I could not get past how *terrible* almost all of the characters were, Ani included. I was prepared to cut her a lot of slack because of all the trauma she had endured, but I could not dismiss all the catty judgmental stuff as a symptom of PTSD.
    And for all the serious issues the book brought up, I was left feeling like most of them weren’t really developed enough, especially Ani’s clearly disordered eating habits, brushed off as preparation for the wedding. It never felt like that was confronted in any meaningful way.

  2. Jenna,

    We definitely had different experiences reading the book. I think many readers were disappointed by the publisher’s promise of another Gone Girl. “Catty judgmental stuff” isn’t a symptom of PTSD. It is, however, very difficult for sexual assault survivors to form meaningful, intimate relationships. Eating disorders and abuse of drugs and alcohol are also common.

    We might have had a different experience because I knew about the gang rape before I read the book and empathized with her struggle to essentially fictionalize a memoir. There wasn’t a #MeToo movement before the book was published.

    Her next book The Favorite Sister is horrid.

    Thanks for leaving your comment,
    Anne Caroline

  3. Sure, but there’s emotional distance and then there’s picking apart the aesthetics of every woman she encountered. The latter was what got under my skin. I just couldn’t get past that aspect of her character. I do agree that the marketing was a huge detriment to it, though. The comparison to Gone Girl was bizarre and left people expecting an entirely different kind of book.

  4. Yes, it annoyed me as well. It made sense, however, when I discovered she worked at Cosmo and Self. Both magazines promote the idea that being female is a competitive sport and elevate the superficial. It seems to be the NYC lifestyle. Even Nora Ephron brags about how much she spends to get her hair blown out. Makes me glad to be in Seattle.

    You might enjoy Dorothea Benton Frank’s latest: By Invitation Only. She probably should have done her research before she based the hedge fund manager (Bernie Madoff) in Chicago because the plot starts to unravel at the end, but I found it a delightful beach book (escape vs. literature) on the classic tale of city and country mouse. She skewers the pretensions I find so annoying in many books written by NYC authors. She also debunks the myth about dumb dirt farmers who own thousands of acres.

    Do you know about the World’s Best Book Club which is based in New Zealand? They are on Facebook. The group was founded by a major publishing executive, and the members are quite serious about their books and food.

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