Once upon a time, Ani (pronounced Ahh-nee not Annie) was TifAni, a teenager who desperately wanted to fit into the high school her parents couldn’t really afford to send her too, even after “the event that changed her life”. Now, she could afford to buy the school – or at least her fiancé Luke could – thanks to his old money roots and job in finance.
Ani worked hard to find a man like Luke, and her job at a top women’s magazine (with it’s access to high fashion clothes she could never otherwise afford). She still works hard – dieting, exercising, maxing out her credit cards, and pretending to be someone she’s not. All for a ring on her finger, and a need to escape a past she is too embarrassed to face. That is until a TV crew approach her to make a documentary about.
Despite Luke’s objections she agrees to take part because it will allow her to show everyone what she has become, that she is not the girl they thought her to be. Who that girl is is unclear. I thought she was a mean girl – she is a mean woman so it made sense – but it’s more complicated than that, and darker than I expected.
The cover of this book says for those who liked Gone Girl (yes, another one!) but I can’t see it myself. This isn’t crime fiction and only a little bit of a thriller or suspense. More than anything, it is a book about a woman finding her way back from a series of events no one could have predicted and which changed her whole life, not for the better. I liked this about the book.
I wish I could have liked Ani as much but I just didn’t. I understood why she was the way she was but I could find nothing redeemable about her. She was nasty to everyone, including herself. And, as a smart woman, I couldn’t understand why she hadn’t ever sought help to fight her demons. As the main character and the only voice you hear, this made it hard to read at times, especially as the other characters are under developed.
This means I liked but didn’t love the book. It wouldn’t stop me reading another book by Jessica Knoll though or recommending the book because, as a debut, it’s still pretty good.