Her perfect life is a perfect lie . . . 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?
Another title from my backlist that I picked up now because Reese Witherspoon saw something in it and it’s now a major Netflix film starring Mila Kunis. I really wanted to read the novel before watching the movie, but in all honesty I originally bought it years ago because of the cover love!
Ani (pronounced Ah-nee, not Annie cos that’s too pedestrian for her) is introduced as a shallow and rather nasty character. Obsessed with looks and wealth she’s on the verge of marrying a rich guy, for status rather than love as it seems. It’s hard to like her and I wondered if there was anything that would make me actually interested in getting to know this person better.
There was, lovely reader, there was. The past chapters took me back to her start at The Bradley School, a private school full of snobs and rich kids where she tries to blend in. In order to do that she has to reinvent herself. This desire of hers to be one of them coupled to several events that happened to her in her first year make her the troubled woman she is in the present. It helped to understand and make some allowances for the way she thinks although it didn’t mean she turned my feelings around completely.
The novel gets more compelling with the start of the incident at the school and everything that ensues with the documentary so many years later. At least I felt her emotions while she went through this. There’s another monumental event prior to this that shaped her but the emotions I was expecting to read about were not there. In fact this part was written in quite a detached manner and in the aftermath there’s not much pondering about what happened. She simply pretends nothing happened and she continues being friends with people who are definitely not worth being called friends, but her whole adult life is a testimony that it really did change her. I certainly felt for her but the Ani of the past could have touched me much more deeply if the author had given me her emotions.
Luckiest Girl Alive is a novel about bad things happening to you and coming out the other way. You might seem okay but are you really? The novel involves bullying, abuse and violence when you least expect it. This is definitely a book with trigger warnings.
This novel is compared to Gone Girl but there is no Gone Girl twist so don’t go in expecting a similar experience as Ani is only a woman coping with her past.
* I watched the movie now as well and I had a different experience from reading it. The build up in the novel was much longer with a very cold and snobbish Ani, whereas the movie made me feel more compassion and comprehension for Ani. I’m still not saying she’s the warmest person in the room but I felt they at least shaved off some of it. In the movie it also becomes much sooner clear what the events were, I didn’t have have to wonder repeatedly what had happened in her past (of course I already knew but I still felt the lead up wasn’t so long and mysterious). Then again the scenes about Ben and Arthur in the book had more of an impact on me and at least her friendship with Arthur received more attention, but all in all they stayed quite close to the original and I think it is definitely worth watching.
I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.