Publisher: Macmillan | Publication date: 21st May 2015 | Edition: Paperback (review copy)
NOW A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, AND OPTIONED FOR FILM BY REESE WITHERSPOON AND HER PRODUCTION PARTNER BRUNA PAPANDREA – IN CONJUNCTION WITH LIONSGATE FILMS
HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE. . . Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is an audacious, page-turning debut thriller that will appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Jodi Picoult.
Ani FaNelli is the woman who has it all: the glamorous job, the designer wardrobe, the handsome and rich fiancé. But behind her sharp edges and meticulously crafted facade lies the darkest of pasts . . .
When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violent incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley school, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she’s turned her life around since then. She’ll even let the production company film her lavish wedding, the final step in her transformation.
But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani’s past threatens to come back and haunt her. And as her immaculate veneer starts to crack, she is forced to question: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for – or, will it at long last, set Ani free?
While reading this book, I’ll freely admit that most of the starring cast got my hackles right up. Boy, did they succeed in making my skin crawl at times!
So, where to start! What if everyone believed you were to blame for something cruel and dark that happened a long time ago? What if you couldn’t change the public opinion of your character, no matter what the vile circumstances you’d experienced building up to the event? Would you feel contempt for everyone that ever hurt you? Or would you transfer that energy into becoming a ball-busting, secretive manipulator, allowing you to achieve the superficial goals that have become important to you?
Years later, what if you were contacted by the makers of a documentary giving you the opportunity to tell your side of the story? Would you come face-to-face with the people that affected your life and made you what you are?
Well, these are just some of the choices offered to Ani (also known as TifAni in her youth). Ani has reinvented herself after bad things happened in the past, despicable things that no fourteen year old should have to confront. While Ani wears a prickly smile she continues to walk the path where she remains affected by such things into adulthood. Keeping up appearances is her specialty, which is a pretty dangerous pastime, as things that are shook vigorously before being bottled-up tend to go BANG, eventually.
Ani tried hard to fit in to the clique as a teenager. Now, she has the prowess to impress and control as a woman and entertains a strange relationship with her fiancé, Luke, who says he loves her for her ‘quirkiness’. In return, she quite likes his bank balance. The date of their HUGE wedding looms and her diet regime is on her mind to the degree that it might as well be etched on her forehead. The film makers have asked if they can record the big day as part of their documentary, and Ani and Luke have opposing ideas about the offer…
As the story progresses you will discover exactly why Ani is the Luckiest Girl Alive, and the menace that drives her onwards and upwards. Despite experiencing emotional challenges, Ani is no weakling. With snappy-sharp writing that contends with many sensitive subjects (confidently, but not always delicately), it identifies the signs of those heading toward self-destruction, although the signs are largely ignored until sometimes it’s just too late.
From the off, there’s an odd, looming suspense that accompanies this book. I stumbled over the first few chapters wondering what I’d got myself into, but it didn’t take long for me to find Ani’s journey compelling, and I just loved seeing her arrive at her final destination, no matter how unlikeable she first appeared.
My sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this pretty unique book for review – @LouiseBuckley