A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, August 2, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?



Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is a 2015 Simon & Schuster publication.

When this book was first released and making the rounds on Goodreads, the cover was so enticing, but the reviews were mixed. I hemmed and hawed over it, unable to decide if I wanted to read it or not. But, as time passed, and all the hype died down, I forgot all about this book. But, when I noticed this author had a new release coming up soon, I thought I’d go back and give this book a second look. The reviews were still mixed, but this time, instead of scaring me away, it only increased my curiosity. It seemed people either loved it or hated it. I had to see which side of the fence I would come down on.

Ani’s life is golden. She has a job at a very popular women’s magazine and is engaged to Luke, a good looking, wealthy guy, and is ready to embark on, what appears on the surface, a charmed life. She embraces the role completely, replete with an entitled, snobby, snotty attitude. But, maintaining that image, is hard work. It seems Ani is also working mighty hard to convince herself, she’s as close to happy as she’s ever going to get, and that her chosen path is the right one for her. Further complicating matters, is that her dark and troubling past has come to roost, so to speak. She has agreed to do a documentary centered around a very traumatic event in Ani’s life, and Luke is not as supportive as she’d like him to be. Not only that, talking about it now, after all these years, has brought the whole horrible situation back into the forefront of her mind.

As the details slowly emerge, Ani’s well orchestrated and carefully constructed life begins to fray at the edges, as she confronts her personal inner demons.

Well, I must say, this book was nothing at all like I thought it would be. This is yet ANOTHER book once compared to ‘Gone Girl’. that is not even remotely similar in style, format or content, in my opinion. This is not a psychological thriller in the purest sense, either. Yes, there is a slow burn of building suspense, the feeling our narrator is not exactly reliable, and of course there are crimes, with a palpable feeling of foreboding, but at the end of the day, the book was more about Ani’s coming to terms with her past and the traumatic event that was the possible catalyst to a stunning turn of events. I don’t know if I’d say Ani’s psychological state was deteriorating, though, but I can see where some might question it. Admittedly, Ani is not the warmest person, especially in the beginning, which makes it hard to sympathize with her. But, as her story unfolds, I began to understand her better.

It took me a while to get into this book, and quite a while to read it as a result, but the second half of the book made up for it, big time. The book touches on some very important topics, and Ani’s backstory has a definite authenticity and realism to it. I think the book is far more thought provoking than it is being credited with, all because the characters are not especially likable. This is a shame because the very important messages the book sent out was tempered, drowned out by Ani’s difficult personality.

If you discover someone you dislike has suffered a series of very serious traumas, does that in some way lessen its severity, or make it any less a crime, any less traumatic? Could it be, that the reason the person behaves in an off-putting way is because they are a product of their past? Maybe they have suffered in ways you can’t imagine, maybe they are being judged, if not unfairly, then maybe a bit too harshly. Most importantly, though, is learning what makes a person tick can change our perception of them, softening our opinions. I admit I did feel guilty for being too hard on Ani in the beginning, did soften once I knew more about her, and even cheered for her after she made some very tough personal decisions about her life. In hindsight, I think Ani made a very interesting character study.

Having said all that, I still couldn’t decide how to rate this one. It was a bit uneven, and I’m not sure if painting Ani in such a negative light, was the best choice to make, or if maybe a firmer, more pronounced and obvious conclusion, was needed to wash that bad taste out the reader’s mouth. I don’t think the book quite lived up to the hype surrounding It either, and the style of writing is not comparable to Gillian Flynn, but the book does have many merits and is a very solid debut novel. In the end, I ended up sitting on the fence, instead of coming down on one side or the other. I didn’t love the book, but I certainly didn’t hate it. It didn’t stir my emotions, but it did make me think.

So, while I’ve been waffling between a 3 or 3.5, I’ve convinced myself to fudge the rating up a notch- 3.5 rounded up, to make up for my awful prejudgement and bias against Ani. May we should all strive to be and do better.

View all my reviews






Jessica Knoll is the author of the instant New York Times Bestseller, LUCKIEST GIRL ALIVE. She has been a senior editor at Cosmopolitan, and the articles editor at SELF. She grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and graduated from The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and bulldog, Beatrice.

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