Here's the thing about Jessica Knoll: she is an absolute master at writing unlikeable characters. If you've read her first book - the unbelievably successful debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive - you know that Knoll has a knack for creating characters so despicable that it's almost painful. What makes Knoll such a brilliant writer is that, despite how difficult it is to like the people she writes about, she somehow manages to pull you into their stories and make them relatable.
Knoll, who is the author of a viral New York Times essay called "I Want To Be Rich And I'm Not Sorry" that everyone should read, is an outspoken feminist and sexual assault survivor. In Luckiest Girl Alive she explores her own experience with rape and bullying, and turns it in to an electrifying novel about the repercussions of things that happen in youth.
Her second novel, The Favorite Sister, is about five women who are brought together by a reality TV show they've all agreed to be part of. The show, called "Goal Diggers" is about independently wealthy and successful women in New York City. The two central characters - Brett and Stephanie - are former best friends who have starting feuding between seasons of the show.
When I first started this book, I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to keep reading. The women in it are so catty and are classic stereotypical depictions of snobby women who can't get along with one another because of jealousy and pettiness. But as I got deeper and deeper into the story, I realized that there was nothing stereotypical or normal about the characters. They had been pushed so far by the expectations of their showrunners and business partners that they were all just barely hanging on to their sanity.
The Favorite Sister explores mental illness, suicide, domestic violence, and feminism in a way I haven't seen done in a book before. Using these five almost unbearable women to showcase real life problems, Knoll demonstrates that wealth, fame and success don't necessarily mean happiness, and that people will go to extremes to stay on top.
This is definitely a fun, exciting read, and, while I didn't like it as much as Luckiest Girl Alive, it firmly cemented me in the pro-Jessica Knoll category. She is incredibly talented and I can't wait to see what she does next.
If you liked this you should try:
- Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty