Jessica Knoll is unsure if her rapists will watch Friday’s Netflix release of Luckiest Girl Alive. But she’s had the thought that their husbands might be watching.
“It’s so hard for me to imagine them watching it,” the author, 38, tells PEOPLE. “It seems more than likely to me that their wives might watch it not knowing they’re the boys from it, and that they could just walk in and see that.”
Six years ago, in an essay, Knoll acknowledged her connection to her 2015 best-selling book: one of its major moments is based on her own experience when she was 15 years old. At a party, three of her classmates gang-raped Knoll, according to Knoll, but “no one termed it rape” at the time. Instead, there was bullying and slut-shaming thereafter, and no charges were brought.
After graduating from high school, Knoll “became preoccupied with remaking” herself, as she recalled in the article, believing that she could transcend her reputation with “the perfect clothes, a glamorous career, and a ring on my finger by the age of 28.”
” With that image of success, her “voice would finally be worth hearing,” she thought, a mistake she came to realize since “the appearance of living well is not the same thing as actually living well” and “revenge does not beget healing.”
Today, Knoll has put in the effort, undergone treatment, and transformed her traumatic childhood experience into a successful work of fiction — a “catharsis” that has nothing to do with those boys and everything to do with her own welfare.
“I don’t spend much time thinking about them, honestly,” she says. “As a writer, my job is putting myself in somebody else’s shoes and imagining why they do the things they do. And they are the ones that I just can’t do that with. So I stay away from thinking like that.”
The latest Luckiest Girl Alive movie, written and directed by Knoll, stars Mila Kunis as magazine editor Ani FaNelli. The main character seemed to have it all: the attire, the position, and the affluent fiancé. She is forced to find her own voice, perhaps at the expense of her seemingly ideal life, when dark truths from her background are revealed.