By Sonia Billadeau
Jessica Knoll’s debut novel Luckiest Girl Alive has been a success, selling more than 400,000 copies and earned a spot on the best-sellers list. Once the book hit shelves, many of the readers commented on the realism of the story and wondered how Knoll crafted her story.
Luckiest Girl Alive is about a sex columnist named Ani FaNelli who strives for perfection, but her perfect image is faltered when she participates in a documentary about her high school and relives the horrifying event of being raped as a teenager. The novel narrates between the present and the past as reviewed by the New York Times.
At the novel’s past Q&A’s and book signings, Knoll was asked how she had managed to depict a rape and its aftermath so vividly and accurately. She would often comment that she had heard stories from friends and classmates.
But in reality, Knoll’s fiction novel was based on a particular experience. Her own.
On March 29th, Knoll shared with the world through a letter that the gang rape described in her novel was from her experience when was sexually assaulted by three boys at a party.
“I was so conditioned to not talk about it that it didn’t even occur to me to be forthcoming,” Knoll said in her letter. “I want to make people feel like they can talk about it, like they don’t have to be ashamed of it.”
Knoll’s explained what she went through at the party and how she never got the courage to speak about it because of the negative and cruel responses from her classmates.
“No one was treating me like a victim; they were treating me like I was a perpetrator, like I was getting what I deserved,” Knoll said, according to the New York Times.
Knoll also went to therapy years later to figure out what happened that painful and blurry night. Once she was in her thirties, Knoll decided to finally address the incident through her fiction writing. Knoll said she did not want revenge on her attackers when she published the book and the essay, she just wanted to take control of her story.
“It’s not directed at them,” Knoll said. “It’s more like, ‘I’m going to tell the story this time.’ This is a very empowering thing for me to be able to say, actually, this is what happened to me, and to take ownership of my own narrative.”
Once Jonathan Karp, the president of Simon & Schuster Publishing, read Knoll’s letter he said, “We were all shocked and moved by what we read. It’s a little bit like finding out something about a friend that you never knew, and it makes you respect them even more for their strength and their character.”
By her bravery and dedication to speak out, Jessica Knoll has given hope to women who have kept quiet for too long.
Go buy yourself a copy of Luckiest Girl Alive and read for yourself the power behind this story of heartache and redemption.
Find the letter here: http://www.lennyletter.com/life/a316/what-i-know/
(Image via makers.com)