In 2012, Gillian Flynn turned the literary world upside-down with the release of her third psychological thriller Gone Girl. You might have heard of it. Since then, authors have delivered some seriously riveting, twisted novels featuring female protagonists to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Readers will tread the waters of Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive nervously. We know a violent and disturbing revelation is coming. On the very first page, Ani is examining a knife and idly wondering what would happen if she stabbed her fiancé, Luke. She imagines bystanders’ reactions and how reporters would “swarm the scene.” Of course, this is not a typical thought when registering for silverware before your wedding. Knoll keeps the tension tight and never tries too hard to make Ani sympathetic to readers. At no point does Ani deny manipulating the people around her, but we still begin to feel sorry for someone so thoroughly convinced that manipulation is the only option, and that everyone around her has an angle, too.
Heidi Wood, a social worker, lives in downtown Chicago with her husband and their bright but newly sullen 12-year-old daughter. While commuting, Heidi notices a disheveled teenage girl toting a filthy, miserable baby. After seeing the pair more than once, Heidi approaches the girl — who gives her name as Willow Greer and the baby’s as Ruby— and invites her to a local diner for a meal, ostensibly to discover whether the girl needs to go to a shelter. Kubica patiently constructs a tableau offering glimpses of Willow's before and after stories. When and where did Willow give birth to Ruby? Who is Ruby's father? What does Willow want from the Wood family?