The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
The Favorite Sister
by Jessica Knoll
Simon & Schuster (May 15, 2018)
Advance copy provided by publisher
I've made no secret of the fact that I enjoy reality television, especially highly scripted and overproduced fare like The Bachelor and Real Housewives franchises. In Jessica Knoll's sophomore effort, The Favorite Sister, readers are introduced to a highly plausible, yet fictitious, series called Goal Diggers; it purports to showcase strong women who have become successful entrepreneurs without the help of men.
This sounds like a great idea but, as is always the case with these programs, there must some drama, including strained dynamics and secrets between the individuals cast for the show, and Goal Diggers is no exception; not only does Jessica Knoll brilliantly demonstrate how this all plays out, in a highly entertaining story, but she also injects relevant social commentary, through her characters, to highlight the discomfort with subject matter like disordered eating, racism, homosexuality, mental health and the fact that, no matter how hard we try to change the narrative, society insists on pitting women against one another.
There is a mystery, but don't expect thriller-type suspense; The Favorite Sister is a slow burn. Having said that, Knoll drops twisty bombs the way someone with dry humor drops jokes; you might not realize what's she's just presented until the next paragraph and you suddenly find yourself thinking, "wait, what did that just say?"
Most of all, I love that Knoll snarks on the very concepts and social constructs about which she is writing; if I was describing this in the world of theatre or film, I would say that she definitely breaks the fourth wall during portions of her narrative. I can almost envision her leaning out to the side, giving her audience a wink, as she shares short quips and highlights injustices. I could hardly get enough.
Whether you are a fan of reality television matters not; Knoll's characters are the strong, loud, survivalist individuals that society, in general, loves to hate. I'm thankful that she has chosen to illuminate them in a different way and remind us that success, especially for women, does come at a cost and it's often one that we have been programmed to accept.