In the novel Luckiest Girl Alive Jessica Knoll takes the reader into the mind of 28-year-old TifAni FaNelli. Told from her perspective, we first get to see the life of present day Ani – as she prefers to be called now – and all the success that comes with it. She has the perfect position at a famous magazine. She is planning her Nantucket wedding to her successful and rich fiancé. And she is almost a size zero. But all these things don’t come easy to her and more importantly they do not make her happy. They are all just part of a façade she has been putting up for years. At the point just before you start to hate her, Knoll confronts the reader with Ani’s disturbing prep school past. And suddenly the glamour of her present day life is contrasted sharply with violence, rape and lots of blood.
Jessica Knoll has written an interesting portrait of a woman who is not your typical heroine. She is not easily approachable, or even likable for that matter. She is not very emotional and goes for things in life that we’ve been taught we don’t need to go for anymore. We, as independent women, should not need a husband to show the world that we are worthy. So why does Ani still go for these things? The answer lies in her troubled past.
One aspect that made Luckiest Girl Alive important to me was the treatment and definition of rape. Ani goes through different phases in the novel. First there is denial (and laughing at her rapists jokes), followed by trying to get back in control and finally confronting her past head on. The reactions that people have to Ani’s rape vary greatly. Some blame her, others don’t even see it as rape and very few help her deal with it. I think the important and central point that Knoll is making, is that rape is always rape. And the responsibility always lies with the rapist, never the victim.
Luckiest Girl Alive is a smart and unconventional novel with a story that may seem unusual but is based partly on the author’s life. I didn’t see all the twists coming and I couldn’t figure out Ani’s character until the very end. I liked the way the story was told through flashbacks and I also thought the statements that Knoll made about sexual consent are quite important. Ani was a difficult and complicated character to be with. But you don’t have to like her, you just have to listen.