'Luckiest Girl Alive' Author Reveals She Was Gang-Raped as a Teen

Luckiest Girl Alive Book Cover - P 2016
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

"There's no reason to cover my head. There's no reason I shouldn't say what I know," writes Jessica Knoll in Lena Dunham's latest Lenny letter.

Jessica Knoll, the author of Luckiest Girl Alive, reveals that her New York Times best-seller may have been fiction but its inspiration is, in fact, real.

In an essay published Tuesday in Lena Dunham's latest Lenny letter, Knoll opens up about the time she was gang-raped as a teen — not unlike the novel's main character, TifANi FaNelli, a successful woman who seemingly has it all but is tormented by her past.

Though she's been trying to hide her secret for years, Knoll explains why she's choosing to speak out on the situation now.

"I've been running and I've been ducking and I've been dodging because I'm scared. I'm scared people won't call what happened to me rape because for a long time, no one did," she writes. But as Knoll prepares for the novel's press tour, she's come to "a simple, powerful revelation: everyone is calling it rape now. There's no reason to cover my head. There's no reason I shouldn't say what I know."

Knoll details the pain she suffered when recalling the events that happened to her ("I know my classmates called me a slut," she recalls). But she did her best to survive, learning to "laugh loudly at my rapists' jokes" and "speak softly to the mean girls."

The former Cosmopolitan editor is no longer afraid to speak her truth as she's come to understand what happened to her.

When a reader recently asked how she was able to tell Ani's story so honestly, Knoll responded for the first time: "Something similar to what happened to Ani happened to me."

Although she tried to alleviate the situation by insisting she was fine, Knoll concludes, "I'm not fine. It's not fine. But it's finally the truth, it's what I know, and that's a start."

Luckiest Girl Alive has been optioned by Reese Witherspoon's production company, Pacific Standard Films, to turn the best-seller into a film with Lionsgate.