Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of a New York magazine writer named TifAni FaNelli who suffers, among other things, from having too many capital letters in her name. Other sufferings of TifAni include a supremely low self esteem, which also manifests itself as an exaggerated bitchiness towards the world. In line with the above, TifAni hates her own name and prefers to go by Ani, repeatedly reminding people that it is pronounced Ah-nee, and not Annie. Ani is engaged to Luke, mostly for his bank balance and his famous surname. Ani has many friends, all of whom she hates deeply. She also boasts of a size zero figure which she has painstakingly built on a healthy diet of peanut butter scoops and self-loathing. If you hate this character by now, you are not alone. I failed at scrounging any shred of sympathy in my heart for the protagonist of Luckiest Girl Alive until halfway into the book when her past starts revealing itself – and it took all the patience of six months to reach that point.
This was my only problem with this otherwise gripping story. Half the book, if not more, is spent on building this truly detestable character who we are somehow supposed to empathize with. There are characters in the first half who have absolutely no relevance to the plot. And for some reason, we are informed about the waist size of each and every one of them. All that’s revealed of Ani’s backstory in the first half is the fact that she had transferred to a new high school where she was trying hard to sit at the popular kids’ table – a tale as old as the American education system. Basically, if you have read this review so far, you have read half of this book. Which is a problem.
The story really starts picking pace and moving forward when the dark events of her past come rolling back at her as she relives a particularly traumatic day from her past for a documentary she is being interviewed for. Though she tells herself she is participating in the documentary for little more than to flash the rock on her finger, the shoot leads her to her hometown and all the memories and people that come with it. As others from her school come together for the documentary, Ani is put in a position where she is forced to confront both – her tormentors and her inner demons.

I wouldn’t call the ending of the story happy, but it is mercifully less unhappy than the rest of the book. At the very least, you will find yourself rooting for her by the end of it all. Which is saying something given the very ‘Devil wears Prada’ way it all began.

Read the book if you’re interested in an up, close and personal look at the lives and psyche of people, particularly children, who go through traumas and are victims of violent crimes. Not a light read at all, and truly dark and depressing in parts. It took me a good year to trudge through it and another half a year to simply put this review together, just because I had to take time off to un-depress myself. You’ve been warned.

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