In The Favorite Sister, Jessica Knoll follows her hit debut, Luckiest Girl Alive, with a look at not just one but a group of ambitious women.
The novel opens with the producer of a TV reality show about wealthy entrepreneurs called Goal Diggers interviewing one of the cast members, Kelly Courtney, about her sister, Brett, another Digger who mysteriously died. The story then jumps back in time and takes readers through preproduction and production of the fourth season, showing how ruthless the women have become behind the scenes to attain more screen time and avoid being axed. With increasing pressure to maintain ratings, the tension between cast and crew explodes and results in murder.
The synopsis might sound campy, but this is no superficial send-up of insta-celeb culture. Knoll's take is a deadly serious exploration of the dichotomy between women publicly espousing inclusion riders and sisterhood while privately sabotaging one another, knowing there's still not enough room at the top for all of them. It's biting social commentary in darkly humorous language: "She doesn't even really seem to like her dogs.... [S]he adopts them for Instagram likes." A woman wonders: if her husband were an air freshener, "what would we call him?... Radiant Herpes." Another Digger cuts to the bone by observing: "If you don't hate yourself just a little bit, you are intolerable." This book is more than tolerable; it's sharp and clear-eyed and will be a favorite for Knoll's fans. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd