Book Club: Luckiest Girl Alive and Truly, Madly, Guilty
I started writing two book reviews a week so that I could play catch up on all my backlogged books I readin 2018. Unfortunately, I’ve been reading a lot of books (I’ve already read 17 books this year!) and my list of backlogged books just keeps growing longer! In fact, these two books I read early this year, in January.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
I’m a big fan of books with a thriller element. Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are some of my all-time favorite books to read. Can you tell I like books about women (girls) who are flawed and stumble onto a thrilling situation? I was excited to dive into this book because so many people had recommended it to me. Here are my thoughts:
HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.
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 fiancé, 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?
Related post: Book Club: Never Let You Go
There was so much hype around this book that originally made me want to pick it up. Delving into the first few pages, you quickly find out that Ani FaNelli is a soon-to-be-bride. She has a seemingly perfect life: an editor job at a women’s magazine, a fiance who works in finance and comes from money. But beneath the surface, you realize that Ani is anxiety-ridden and about to crack from the pressure of her self-imposed need to be “perfect” at all times.
Ani’s big secret is that she went through a series of horrible and emotionally crippling events, including a gang rape. She is asked by a documentary crew to be interviewed regarding a traumatic event that happened at her old high school where she was known as “TifAni FaNelli” (she changed her name as an adult to put some distance between her old life and her new one).
Maybe it’s because I’ve been so spoiled with Gillian Flynn’s novels and characterizations but this book was a huge letdown. When I first picked this book up, so many people compared it to Flynn’s works so I couldn’t help but compare the two writers. This book and Ani FaNelli felt like the poor man’s Gone Girl. Flynn is by far a much better writer, and especially a writer of character. She makes Amy Dunne feel relatable, even if she’s crazy! Everyone knows about the “cool girl” stereotype which introduced grains of truth in her insanity. Ani FaNelli just annoyed me to no end. She mindlessly ranted and got ridiculously upset over things that didn’t matter and I had to put the book down a few times because I started getting angry too. I then started to question if I’m just an unsympathetic person because if I can’t sympathize with a rape victim because they’re not what I deem as “sympathetic,” does that make me a horrible person??
At the end of the day, this book was just boring. The big reveal at the end was somewhat anti-climactic, especially given the hype. If you liked Gone Girl, don’t read this book. It’s going to disappoint you.
Related post: Book Club: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
I really love Liane Moriarty’s books since I first read Big Little Lies. She has a way of writing about suburban drama in a way that’s really relatable. She’s just an all-around good writer and I was excited to read another Moriarty special.
Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?
In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.
Related post: Book Club: The Husband’s Secret
Clementine and Erika are old friends who are as different as can be. Where Clementine is emotionally free and a bit careless, Erika is controlled and a bit uptight. Both are invited to Erika’s neighbor’s barbecue party where an incident occurs, involving one of Clementine’s daughters. An incident that changes the dynamic of everyone in the group.
Oh boy, this was another book that was a letdown. I don’t want to spoil anything for you guys but when I got to the big reveal of what the big life-changing incident was, I just thought, “that’s it???” I don’t have children so I can’t really attest to how scarring such an incident would be but it just seemed a lot of fuss over a blip in each of their lives. This book just lacked the grit and drama that I saw with her other books, including Big Little Lies and it was rather disappointing.
I did give this book three stars because frankly, Moriarty is a very good writer and she is very attuned to how people, especially women and mothers think and feel (better than Jessica Knoll to be frank). If you’re a Liane Moriarty fan, I would skip this book but don’t just take my word for it.