I read this book in two days (which is saying a lot when you’re at home with a preschooler and a toddler and the toddler is on a nap strike!)
TifAni FaNello has reinvented herself as “Ani” following a terrible high school experience that put her in the news. She is engaged to a good looking man with a solid career, and she has her own solid career as an editor at a well known magazine in NYC. When a director approaches her to be in a documentary that will shed light on the events fourteen years ago, Ani jumps at the chance to tell her side of the story and clear her name. However, participating in the documentary forces her to relive terrible events and face a part of herself of which is she ashamed.
The narrative structure of this novel is unique in that it felt like reading an adult novel and a young adult novel at the same time. The first chapter takes place during present day when Ani is 28, engaged and successful. The second chapter takes place fourteen years earlier, when Ani begins to attend the prestigious Bradley school where her life as she knows it will begin to unravel. As the story progresses in the present, more of the past is revealed, with Jessica Knoll deftly revealing just enough new information to keep up the suspense.
What impressed me was how authentically Jessica Knoll handles the aftermath of sexual assault. Not just in terms of the victim’s and perpetrator’s feelings of guilt, but Ani’s uncertainty as to whether or not a crime had actually been committed against her when both parties had been drinking. To the reader it’s obvious a crime was committed, but to fourteen year-old Ani, it isn’t quite so clear. The characters and their actions were so realistic that it often felt like reading a work of non-fiction rather than fiction. I struggled to like Ani sometimes due to her downright b!tchy personality, but overall I understood her edge (and at times, her cruelty) because of everything she went through and the lack of support she received. She was raw.
I suppose the only aspect of the book I didn’t enjoy was Ani’s preoccupation with the world of privilege. I got a bit tired of the name and brand dropping, as well as hearing about the “rules” required to fit into New York’s “elite”. It felt like a page out of Gossip Girl.
I recommend this book and will definitely be checking out other books by this author!