Luckiest Girl Alive


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?

I found this review on and I think MeanGreenZen took the words out of my mouth and made them sound more intelligent and witty:

"With Gone Girl comes a new genre of writing--one where things seem one way, and then masterfully shift to show they were something different the whole time, like that picture where you think you are looking at a vase and then find you are looking at two faces, or is it still a vase? The lines are the same, but your perception is changed to see things in a way that, although they were right in front of you the whole time, you didn't see before. Girl on A Train also does this well, even with a drunken narrator.... In the case of this book, it's more like you are looking at a picture and then the drunken artist comes along and sloppily erases it and draws something else right in front of you, burps in your face, and expects you to be amazed. It's lazy, sad, flat read and I found it insulting to reader and the genre.

That is to say, if you enjoy the mental workout of a twisty plot and trying to piece together what will happen, don't buy this book. If you find the exploitation of national tragedy distasteful, especially if it's done in a lazy way, don't buy this book. If gaping plot holes and flimsy characters bother you, don't buy this book. If there are any other books available to you, don't buy this book.

I gave the book one star because there are a few funny parts, but overall I found the whole thing barely readable. A character who seems to be tough and interesting in the first chapter devolves into a whiny, vapid victim with no redeeming qualities, and yet we are supposed to root for her and care what happens to her? Things that are already part of our collective fear and sadness as Americans are leveraged in a pathetic way, to make us feel by memory what the writer could not by skill. Things we are told about characters do not hold up throughout the book, leaving me confused and going to back to see if I missed something, but sadly we are just supposed to suspend disbelief enough to forget what we read a few chapters before. By the last chapter, I was thinking something earth shattering had to happen to explain all of that point I was so underwhelmed that I felt like the author might even play the "it was all a dream" card, but no, the biggest trick was done by the publishing house, who lured you in with the promise of Gillian Flynn-level writing on the book jacket and then, in a classic bait and switch, gave you something that was even sadder and faker than the lead character herself."

I was going to review this book myself, but honestly, MeanGreenZen's review on amazon seriously sums up most of my feelings. I can no longer handle all of these books with reprehensible characters - its why I disliked (but was captivated by, because as she points out, it was done exceedingly well) Gone Girl, hated Wild, and couldn't stomach Luckiest Girl Alive. The characters have no redeeming qualities. They have no desire to improve their character, to be better people, to just not be awful. (This might be slightly unfair to Wild, because I do think she wanted that, but I still disliked the book) And since she mentioned Girl on a Train, I think that book is also very well done, twisty-turny, but redeeming in the end.

Books like this are what push me to read steampunk-fantasy fluff - which is exactly what I did on Friday  - vampires, werewolves, and steam-powered robots with flamethrowers with the same tired love story will win me over any day over vapid, selfish, cruel characters. 

Wild: A Review

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. (photo and synopsis from Amazon)

When Wild hit the big screen as Reese Witherspoon's passion project, I was intrigued. Then I saw it on a must-read list of memoirs, so I thought I would give it a go. One of my friends shared that she didn't like it at all, and I was surprised. I mean, how can you go wrong with a woman striking out on her own to hike across the country to refocus her life?!

Well, let me tell you how you can go wrong.

You can go wrong when she's an immature, selfish, basically horrible person. I honestly hated Cheryl Strayed. She destroyed her own marriage. She did a bunch of heroin. She was kind of a hoe.

I thought that I would at least be able to relate to her grief over losing her mom. But no. I got mad at her over that too. She got her mom until she was in her mid-20s - got to be friends with her mom and know her woman-to-woman, and then when she died, she completely let her life fall apart. I am the first person to empathize with the loss of a mom - I share that wound. I know how hard it is. I have friends who know what its like to ache over the loss of their mothers. None of them went and did heroin for kicks. Maybe I didn't like it because I was just so far from who I am - I have nothing in common with this woman.

I know life is messy and that people make mistakes and its not pretty. I get that. Things worked out fine for Cheryl as she hiked along the PCT. But I couldn't root for her.

I will say that I was engaged with her story and wanted to see it through to the end, and in no way did I want her to fail. I just couldn't root for her. I will be very intrigued when I get around to seeing the movie - maybe Reese can make this woman more relatable.