book review · books · fiction · literacy · ya · young adult

Asking For It

Warnings: rape, swearing, drinking, drug abuse
Author: 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 a slut. Now, she is nothing.
And those pictures – those pictures that everyone has seen – mean she can never forget.’

This was a very good book in terms of informing people about victim blaming and rape culture, as well as being very well written. I was so fascinated by the book just from the blurb – I hadn’t read any reviews or any more of Louise O’Neill’s writing.

I found Emma a unique main character simply because she was so dislikeable. She was like Regina George but Irish. And meaner, if that’s possible. There were some moments when she would say one thing and then express what she really though in brackets, showing the two faced nature of the character. Even so, however much you disliked her during the start of the book, I found it impossible to not empathise with her.

This is the kind of book where nothing really happens, but you can’t help but read on. One of the few huge events in the book was the trigger for everything else, and the writing allowed you to feel as Emma would – it gave off a feeling of emptiness, not having a sense of self.

Asking For It also brought up incredibly important social issues – young women AND men are never asking for sexual harassment, however they are dressed, how much they’ve drunk or any other factor. This book shows the harm that this can do to a survivor of sexual harassment, and how the people around them cope. Victim blaming is a massive controversy that shouldn’t have to be controversial.



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