Friday 8 April 2016

ASKING FOR IT by Louise O'Neill

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O'Donovan is different. She is the special one - beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way. 
Until that night . . . 
Now, she's an embarrassment. Now, she's just a slut. Now, she is nothing. 
And those pictures - those pictures that everyone has seen - mean she can never forget.

After reading the incredible Only Ever Yours, I really wanted to check out this author's other book. And thanks to Ashleigh from Hachette Australia, I did.

Wow. This book is heavy. It's sharp enough to cut, and doesn't hold back.

Emma O'Donovan lives in a small town. She's eighteen and so pretty she totally knows it. Actually, she loves the fact. She thrives on rubbing it in every other girl's face. She's beautiful and all the boys want her, and when they don't seem to want her, she can't help but wonder why. She's vain, manipulative, cruel and a total liar. She's the epitome of a mean girl, and the way she treats her friends makes you cringe.

The day her parents go away on an overnight trip she has some friends over. Then they all head out to a party. There's a guy Emma has her eye on, but when he doesn't pay any attention to her and instead finds himself another girl, she settles for another guy. A total creep who entices her to take a drug that totally wrecks her. Then she drags him into a bedroom, and before she can stop it, she's hooking up with this guy--who has a girlfriend. But what's the big deal, right? It's over quickly and he seems to like her, so no harm done. (Wrong.)

However, when several other boys enter the room and once again engage in a bit of pill-popping, she takes part because she doesn't want anyone to think she'll wimp out. And the next time she wakes up is when her parents are dragging her back into the house the next morning. After finding her on the porch like a sunburnt piece of garbage.

When she goes to school, she thinks everything will be okay. Because she can't remember what happened. Not even after she sees the degrading, awful and perverted photos the boys she thought were her friends posted online. Photos that paint a horrible picture of a girl who can't remember what happened, and is clearly passed out.

But when it's obvious that she couldn't have consented to any of those acts and the police get involved, who will believe her? After all, everyone saw what she was wearing. Everyone saw her drinking. Everyone saw her dragging a guy into a room. 


This is a very uncomfortable, brutal book to read. Where the reader is introduced to a mean girl who mistreats and ignores her friends, steals from them, and is willing to say/do whatever it takes to make sure people love her. Emma is vain and nasty, loves it when girls worship her and boys notice her. But on the flip side, she's also a girl who's grown up listening to her parents and every other adult telling her how pretty she is. So much that it's become the scale of her life. If not for her pretty face and lovely body, who is she? So she takes pride in her beauty and flaunts it with revealing outfits that suit and make her feel good, but others use as a way of judging her.

After the terrible incident happens to Emma, she transforms into another person. One who retreats from society and is constantly blaming herself. She's always feeling sorry for the lives of the boys she ruined. She hardly believes she's the victim. And is still, in her new depressed state, looking for acceptance. And the most important acceptance she seeks is that of her parents, because all she sees is judgement and truly believes she ruined their lives. It's only her brother who calls everyone out, but he's not enough to make her see the truth, which leads to an ending that will totally frustrate you.

But you know what? It's realistic and totally fits in with Emma's personality. As well as the pretentious ways of her two very selfish parents. (I wanted to slap both of them! Grrr.)

Asking For It is a well written, chilling account of the turmoil, confusion, guilt, betrayal and pain that one woman goes through after continually punishing herself for not being able to remember. It's raw and truly awful in places. It made me cringe a lot. It's totally frustrating in other sections. And it's also very sad. Plus the way people covered for the guys responsible made my blood boil. But you know what else it is? This book is essential reading for everyone.

People are quick to judge girls/women on what they wear or how they dress, on how much sex they have or don't have. But NONE OF THAT MATTERS. When someone is violated, their stories must be heard, and society needs to treat them like people. Not pariahs.


Asking For It, May 2015, 9781848664173, Quercus Children's Books

No comments:

Favorites More