On Monday, September 12, the 7% Solution Book Club meets to discuss Jessica Knoll’s stunning debut, Luckiest Girl Alive. October’s book is Last King of Texas, by Rick Riordan. As always, book club selections are 10% off at the registers in the month of their selection.
- Post by Molly Odintz
There are few things I can reveal about the fascinating journey that is reading Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. The novel holds too many surprises to speak much of what occurs – although I do feel “trigger warning” would be an apt phrase to attach to the novel. For those who’ve already read the book and are interested in discerning fact from fiction in the novel’s inspirations, here’s a haunting article from Jessica Knoll about how her own experiences made their way into Luckiest Girl Alive.
The novel’s darkness is matched only by its level of success. Reese Witherspoon has plans in the works to turn the book into a film, and Luckiest Girl Alive has become an international bestseller. The novel’s appeal stems from its perfect merger of societal critique, mystery novel, and message – of hope, recovery, forgiveness (for some) and vengeance (for the deserving).
Knoll’s debut begins with a facade. TifAni FaNelli is a woman who has achieved career success, found a blue-blooded fiance, and adopted convincing upper-class mannerisms. Only TifAni FaNelli’s name gives her origins away – a working class childhood and a severe Catholic school, full of bullies, misfits and targets. She’s been contacted by a camera crew making a documentary about a traumatic event at her high school, forcing FaNelli to take a step back from her hard-won success and take a look at the lingering scars of her past.
As the novel switches between grown-up TifAni and teenage TifAni, the reader sees much of the journey of modern womanhood. Grown-up TifAni knows how to rule the roost; she uses a series of psychological tricks to establish dominance over her interns in the first few chapters, and knows exactly what statement she makes with every aspect of her ensemble. Teenage TifAni, beautiful and naive, tries to fit in with the rich kids at her new school, ready to blend in and assume a higher social status. Instead, the school’s elites exploit her and then turn on her, devoting much of their energy to harassing her and smearing her reputation (to put things lightly).
Luckiest Girl Alive’s examination of bullying and slut-shaming is both eye-opening and contemporary. Of particular note, Knoll immerses the reader in the distance between a woman’s relationship with her own body and society’s attempt to equate her curves with her experience. Knoll additionally excels at establishing sympathy for characters capable of heinous acts, while destroying the sympathy unjustly rewarded to those who deserve their suffering.
You can find copies of Luckiest Girl Alive on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The 7 % Solution Book Club normally meets the first Monday of each month, but due to Labor Day, we have moved our September meeting to the second Monday, September 12, at 7 PM.