Thursday 8 June 2017

Review: Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. 

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does. 

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don't want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town's heroes...

This book/review has trigger warnings for rape, bullying and non-consent.

Review: this is another one of those books that has been on my wish list for absolutely ages and I don't know why it took me so long to read! I was warned before I started this book that it would be a challenging read and it is an intense book but I wouldn't necessarily say it is right to warn someone of this before they even pick up the book and I wouldn't necessarily say that I agree. Yes this book packs a real punch and I did find it intense but just because it was such a good read I couldn't put it down!

This books is definitely for older readers and concerns an 18/19 year old protagonist. I loved the fact that this book was set in Ireland, it has been so long since I have read a book set there and so i definitely appreciated the setting of it. Although I did read the US edition of this and some of the language changes were definitely unnecessary, I couldn't see some of the Irish characters using some of the US words they were using!

Obviously we have the story of something happening to Emma at a party and her not remembering most of it until her brother points out the photos on social media. For this author to tackle something which DOES happen and which IS commonplace but which is NOT talked about was amazing. This is such a hot topic, people thinking that if girls are dressed in revelling clothing or are drinking too much and having a good time, that they are 'asking for it'. The whole subject of consent should definitely be discussed more and I hope that it spurs people who have read or have even heard of this book to ensure that people know what consent is and isn't. 

Nevertheless the topic was dealt with extremely well in this book because we see it all through Emma's eyes. Emma is a popular girl and so hasn't always been nice to everyone, you could say she was a bit of a bully and yet, because the story is told from her point of view, we immediately align our sympathies more easily. Emma's friends and acquaintances all play a big part in this and yet I didn't really warm to any of the other characters except Emma and her brother. There are also all sorts of family dynamics which are covered in this book as secondary story lines and also as contributing factors and it was great to have something other than just this main storyline to focus on. 

One of the other aspects of this book that I thought really worked and made it stand out from other books concerning this same topic is that it deals with the before and the after, not just the immediately after, but the long term. Emma might not be able to do her exams, she is afraid to go out, she clearly has PTSD and I don't think that people often explore the long term effects of something like this and how it can end someones life and the lives of those around them. 

This was a powerful book, incredibly well written and deals with this subject extremely effectively. I love when a book leaves me asking questions and wanting to challenge what I have heard and what I know and this book did that for me. Yes it was an intense read but definitely a worthwhile read and I urge you to pick this one up whilst being sensitive to the content and prepared to asking the question as to whether anyone is ever 'Asking For It'.

To order your copy now, click here!

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