Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive + Tiny Beautiful Things

October 15, 2015

Hello friends. Two books for you this week; an oldie but a goodie that I’m re-reading for the third time and a new page-turner fresh off the shelves and into my book binging heart.

Both feature strong women with strong opinions, and both had me reading until the wee hours of the morning.

Happy Reading, book lovers. If nothing else ever comes from this little blog, at least we read some books together. That will always be enough.

PS: What are you reading lately? Please feel free to leave suggestions for future reads in the comments below. I’m getting to the end of my book list which is so gratifying and terrifying.

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1. Luckiest Girl Alive.

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If You’re Looking For: Fiction, suspense, page turner

If You Liked: Sharp Objects, Dark Places, We Need To Talk About Kevin

My Review: It’s become very trendy to compare any new thriller novel to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and reviewers have done the same with Luckiest Girl Alive. It’s unfair though, especially for books so unlike Gone Girl. If anything, this book rivals Gillian Flynn’s other (darker) novels– Sharp Objects and Dark Places. It also reminds me of We Need To Talk About Kevin. I still regret watching that movie, the book was traumatizing enough. I liked this novel. It’s always fun to read a story located in or near your hometown. It also carries a good deal of suspense and a strong, narrative voice. Was the book perfect? No. The ending dragged and the “plot twist” was less like a twist and more like a climax placed at the wrong moment. Ultimately, though, Luckiest Girl Alive was what I look for in light book entertainment: A strong voice, a refusal to dumb things down, and the kind of story that keeps me turning the pages. PS: Not for sensitive souls on issues of rape and violence. Skimmed at least 5 paragraphs to avoid nightmares.

Their Review: “Luckiest Girl Alive is crime fiction at its best, proving the genre’s deep connections to society’s fears, ambitions, and ability to question the status quo. . . . Jessica Knoll is a writer to keep an eye on, especially after being compared to Gillian Flynn by Megan Abbott. . . . However, I have found enough personality in Knoll’s debut novel to let her stand on her own, rather than label her ‘the next Gillian Flynn.’ Knoll’s version of the feminist crime novel is more steeped in pop culture than Flynn’s, and Ani’s psyche has nothing to envy of Amy’s: they are both troubled, and they both put up outstanding gender and class performances. But while Amy is more private and emotional, Ani relies on modern fashion references that will thrill even Vogue, Cosmo, and Glamour readers. . . . . Luckiest Girl Alive is the ultimate critical companion to millennial femininity.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

Quoted: There is something about seeing someone from behind, something about the way people walk away, that I’ve always found unnervingly intimate. Maybe it’s because the back of the body isn’t on guard the way the front is – the slouch of the shoulders and the flex in the back muscles, that’s the most honest you’ll ever see a person.

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2. Tiny Beautiful Things.

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If You’re Looking For: Non-fiction, self-help, memoir, humor, philosophy, essays

If You Liked: Wild, Rising Strong

My Review: Every time I read this book, I want to buy 100 more copies and mail them to everyone I know. Cheryl has the unique ability to plow you over with her stories. Her essays in this collection drip with honesty and raw, human emotion. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll take pictures of passages with your phone and then text them to your friends at three in the morning. There is more sensible advice here than I’ve ever found in one place. Empowering, moving, and inspiring to anyone who has ever tried and failed to be the kind of person they always thought they’d be. Five out of five stars. Would recommend to anyone.

Their Review: “Why do we read memoirs? Some choose autobiographies to better understand the lives and histories of important men and women. Some might hope that the experiences and insights of a personal essay might unveil a small truth about the human condition, might teach us about ourselves. Some of us might just be busybodies, looking for a socially acceptable way to peek deeply into a stranger’s life. If you fit into any of these categories, you must meet Dear Sugar, the ultimate advice columnist for lovers of memoirs. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of her works, interspersed with Q&As from Sugar herself. The columns were written anonymously, but with an amount of personal detail that no advice column has ever seen before. In a gracious, sassy, poetic and maternal voice, Sugar shares her own raw personal accounts . . . She runs a highlighter over the breathtaking aspects of mundane tasks, from wedding planning to the day-to-day duties of raising small children. By the last page of the book, which will likely be a bit wrinkled with tear stains by the time you’re through, you may know more about Sugar than you know about your closest friends. . . .Though many of the letters she receives contain ugliness and woe, she weaves them together into a story that is unexpectedly beautiful and impossibly warm. There’s no shortage of conversations on love and sex, but we words also go beyond that. . . . There’s something worth quoting on almost every page. . . . Eloquent . . . Generous.” —Kara Zuaro, Biogrophile

Quoted: I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Luckiest Girl Alive + Tiny Beautiful Things

  1. Cate

    I love and hate these posts of yours. Because yay new books to read! but also omg I have so many to read. Last month I read the girl on the train, the glass castle and the language of flowers. A friend sent me a book called family pictures which I haven’t started yet. I still have yes, please sitting on my shelf unread

    Reply
  2. Jamie

    I would suggest Dept. of Speculation because I am halfway through and considered pulling an all nighter to keep going last night. So far, loving it. Next on my list is Anna Quidlen “Rise and Shine” (older but I love her writing and haven’t gotten to this one yet) and After Birth by Elisa Albert.

    Reply
  3. Sara

    Love your book reviews! For next pick I suggest Elisa Albert’s Afterbirth (a little maddening, but it’s supposed to be). Also, if you’re up for a parenting book I just finished The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and absolutely cherished the advice it gave. It’s incredibly warm and lovely.

    Reply
  4. Liz

    Oooh Luckiest Girl Alive. I was conflicted on that one! Ultimately I did like it but was frustrated by the Gone Girl comps. From a publisher perspective I obviously get it (we tried to avoid with Girl on the Train but it was inevitable!), and it certainly paid off, sales-wise, but as a reader I felt a little duped. I wanted a sexy revenge thriller and ended up with a kind of upsetting story about abuse. I ultimately enjoyed it, I just wish it had been more honestly marketed, I may have come to it from a different vantage point. Love your Kevin comp – that book STILL haunts me!

    Reply
  5. Chelsea

    I just finished Where’d You Go Bernadette, per your recommendation, and loved it a ridiculous amount. So many of your book reviews are on my reading list. Thanks for that. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan was wonderful, and right now I’m reading her Glitter and Glue memoir and liking it a lot.

    Reply
  6. ashley

    I always appreciate your book suggestions! I just read Life and Other Near Death Experiences – a new book by Camille Pagán and really enjoyed it.

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Dark Places + The Sisters Chase | Kate Baer

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