Luckiest Girl Alive

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is . . . I’m back! My now four-month-old baby is finally taking fairly regular naps in her crib, which means I finally have some alone time that I can dedicate to reading and writing. Hurray! Hoorah!! Huzzah!!!

The bad news is that this alone time still comes in pretty short intervals, so I’m not writing the next great American novel anytime soon. Nor, for that matter, will I be writing brilliantly quippy, highly intellectual, thoughtful blog posts.

And, let’s be honest, I’m not reading any deep, thinky books at this point, either. Case in point: after months away, my return to the blog is dedicated to a below-average book about a truly despicable human being. For your sake (and mine), I’ll keep it short.

imgresLuckiest Girl Alive
Jessica Knoll
May 12, 2015
352 pages hardcover

Why I read it: This was billed as one of the best books of the summer. It was an Indie Next pick for May 2015 and was called one of “18 Brilliant Books You Won’t Want to Miss This Summer” by Huffington Post. Publishers Weekly called it “devilishly dark and fun” and “completely enthralling.” It seemed like a good, fluffy book for my random reading spurts.

What it’s about: Ani FaNelli lives in a fabulous one-bedroom apartment in Tribeca with her blueblood fiancé, Luke Harrison. She is a respected writer at The Women’s Magazine. She has impeccable taste in clothes and shoes, wears tasteful makeup, and has her hair styled at the best salon. Her best friend, Nell, is gorgeous and rich and stylish. Everything in Ani’s life appears to be precisely perfect. But beneath the well-cultivated exterior lie troublesome, haunting secrets from Ani’s past . . . secrets from the days when Ani was still fourteen-year-old TifAni, a new student at the elite Bradley School, striving to fit in with all the cool, rich kids.

Rating: 2/5

This book has oft been compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. I was hoping that meant that it was a dark, fast-reading, fun, fluffy suspense/crime novel with exciting plot twists. And, in all fairness, it sort of is. It reads very quickly (despite the fact that the writing style is pretty annoying—check out the example below), there are some exciting (if tasteless) and unexpected events, and it certainly doesn’t make you think very much.

But here’s what I should have known: it also meant that the first-person narrator is a horribly annoying, unlikeable woman. I went on a rant about gross, uninspiring female characters written by female authors in my review of The Girl on the Train (which you can read here), so I don’t need to do that again here. Suffice it to say: I can’t get behind a book whose protagonist is a chick who is so utterly deplorable.     

The book jumps back and forth between Ani’s current life and her life back in high school, when she was still TifAni. She was awful then, and she’s awful now.

She is conniving, dishonest, and cunning . . . while also being weak, foolish, and easily manipulated (the worst of both worlds!). She is extraordinarily superficial and mean-spirited. And she’s just downright annoying. She works for a trashy women’s magazine (as does the book’s author), and her first-person narration reads like a terrible article cut straight from the magazine’s pages. Here’s an example:

Bickering. It’s so much uglier than a heated, dish-smashing fight, isn’t it? At least after that you have sex on the floor of the kitchen, shards bearing the braid of the Louvre pattern weaving an imprint on your back. No man feels very much compelled to rip your clothes off after you inform him, bitchily, that he left one lone turd floating in the toilet.

You don’t love to hate TifAni/Ani. You just downright hate her. Blech.

Coming soon: I still don’t have a lot of time to research good new/soon-to-be-released books, so I’m clearing off my Kindle instead. That means that, coming up, there will be a lot of posts about random, oldish books like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret.

If you’ve read anything great recently or have heard about a new book that you’d like me to review, PLEASE let me know about the book in a comment!

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11 thoughts on “Luckiest Girl Alive

  1. I’m glad you’re back and pleased you didn’t like TifAni (I listened to the book so didn’t know the odd and affected spelling until your review) from the get go, both before and after her name change. I don’t remember your review of “The Girl on the Train”, which I DID like because even though the girl of the title was messed up and an untrustworthy narrator the mystery was good.

    • It’s good to be back!

      You’re lucky you didn’t have to see the affected spelling. Every time it showed up, I had to groan anew. Awful. I agree with you that the mystery was fun in The Girl on the Train, but that book rubbed me the wrong way, because EVERY woman in the book was a despicable human being. Have you read My Sunshine Away? You might want to check it out.

  2. I’m so glad you’re back! I just finished The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. Have you read it? The subject was so heavy that I’m now embarrassed to say that I’m reading a Jennifer Weiner book, just to feel good again. 🙂

    • Aww, thank you, my dear!! I haven’t read The Storyteller. Do you think it’s worth reading (in spite of the heavy subject matter)? If so, I’ll put it on my list . . . but I probably won’t get to it for a while. Right now, my poor brain can only handle fun, unthinky fluff! Jennifer Weiner is right up my alley.

      P.S. Can’t WAIT to see you!!!!

  3. Good to read your pithy prose again! I just read “Our Souls at Night” which is probably a book for old folks but I’d love to hear what you think. It’s a quick read.

    • Why, thank you! Hadn’t heard of Our Souls at Night (shows you how out of the book loop I am). It looks excellent, and the reviews are raving! And, BONUS!, it’s under 200 pages. That’s my kind of book. I shall read it posthaste (which, in current measurements of reading time, means in the next few months).

  4. Congratulations to all of you! Those early days are not easy – It definitely gets better. I finally read church of marvels on your recommendation and loved it completely. What a great story! I look forward to reading along with you again… Wishing you all the joy (and as much sleep as possible) as emergent parenting can hold… (Wait until you get to rediscover old favourites as read-alouds- it’s a whole new world!)

    • Thank you!! The first six weeks or so, I definitely felt like a bit of a zombie. Sleep deprivation is a BEAST. It’s so nice to start feeling “normal” again.

      Yay! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed Church of Marvels! I was pleasantly surprised by that book. Have you read The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing? Hands down, it’s the best book I read in 2015. It’s a debut novel, and I’m so sad it didn’t get more hype. Add it to your list!!

      • I haven’t even heard of it, but I will definitely add it to my list. Now that my two little people are regular sleepers I am carving out more time to read for myself. (Still doing read alouds for my little people though – even at 5 and 9 they love it. Currently reading them Bedknobs and Broomsticks…) I wish you well along the way – that whole first year is a wild roller coaster, but for us 6 months was a great turning point. Keep enjoying every moment.

  5. Congrats on surviving the first four months!

    Is it terrible that I don’t think I could read a book with a character named TifAni? I don’t know why but just looking at the name spelt that way drives me crazy!

    I recently read “The Humans” by Matt Haig, which is a fun, easy read. Also, “Daydreams of Angels” by Heather O’Neill – quirky short stories, meaning you could probably finish one or two before baby wakes up again!

    • Thank you!!

      Not terrible at all; I think that is perfectly reasonable. And rest assured that you won’t be missing much if you decide to skip this one.

      I really appreciate the book suggestions. The O’Neill collection looks right up my alley. Adding it to my list immediately!

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