This novel sucks you in right from the start. I actually read it in one night since I was eager to get through the ending. TifAni (“Ani” as she prefers) is engaged to a wealthy and handsome businessman, Luke. Right from the start, I realize that Ani is not truly happy with her glamorous life. She seems to be caught up in image and status , and she does everything that she can to prove that she fits into Luke’s rich lifestyle and prestigious pedigree. This preoccupation with status made me think that there was a reason behind Ani’s insecurity, and in less than a few chapters, I discover it.
The author, Jessica Knoll, opens up Ani’s high school years to the reader , and it is heartbreaking to discover what she went through. Getting suspended from her old school due to marijuana use propelled her to enroll in a new, private school called Bradley. Her experiences at Bradley are also nothing less than horrific, and I admired Ani for having the strength to become an independent strong woman despite her traumatic past.
Would I recommend this book? Despite the fact that it started off with a bang, the ending was a bust. I honestly thought that my copy of the book was missing the final chapter. It seemed that Jessica Knoll simply had run out patience and wanted to end the book quickly. I could tell that the first half of the book was much more well written and thought out than the second half. If you are looking for a true thriller, I would stick to the novels by Gillian Flynn instead; at least, there is a satisfying conclusion in her novels. This novel provides hastily thought out answers to questions that deserved more attention and detail.
Ani is caught in a vulnerable position of being at a boy’s home and having had too much to drink. She is the only female in the house, and several boys of the soccer team are in the house, all drinking. Ani ends up being taken advantage of by several of the boys. She is the victim of gang rape, and I felt that Jessica Knoll addresses this in a realistic manner. The way that the boys treat her afterwards at school is heartbreaking, and her trip to Planned Parenthood is simply real and honest. Unfortunately, due to the social hierarchy of popular high school kids, Ani is afraid to call out her attacker(s) during high school. It is not until she is a grown woman and is forced to re-live her high school experience through a documentary about the school shooting does she make the public accusation.
Jessica Knoll adds yet another traumatic event to Ani’s high school years as if assault wasn’t enough. Ani and the rest of her popular clique are also in a school shooting, started by one of Ani’s friends who was one of the first kids to befriend her on her first day. Knoll seemed to get into the psyche of the shooter and his accomplice well, delineating why the shooter wanted to take down the school. This shooting was the subject of the documentary, and Ani was asked to be interviewed. The return to Bradley and the resurgence of her past and experiences , especially her face-to-face meeting with Dean, her main attacker, instigated Ani to come out about the rape.
The book was interesting to read up to the ending. The ending was truly a major disappointment. Ani ended up breaking up with her rich fiance (surprise, surprise), but the reason behind the break up was almost a mystery. I knew that Ani would break up with Luke, but I didn’t understand what made her all of a sudden break up with him right before the wedding instead immediately after her trip back to Bradley. In addition, the ending was rushed and not well written at all. It almost seemed like Jessica Knoll was on a deadline and had to finish the book quickly. I almost felt that the same author who wrote the first half of the book did not write the ending.
All in all, this is a good book depicting a strong female protagonist, but the ending is simply unforgiveable. Click //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=storybooktree-20&marketplace=amazon®ion=US&placement=1476789649&asins=1476789649&linkId=5777d818d92859c2332cdaea6fe14792&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff to read it for yourself.