I’ve always avoided writing book reviews on this blog despite my love for books and literary. The reason being, I follow so many book blogs and I could never write a review that compares to the depth and complexity of theirs. You write about what you know and analysing texts has never been my forte. However, I just read an extremely compelling and powerful book written by Louise O’Neill and I need to share this with you.
Trigger Warning: Rape
Asking For It explores one of the most relevant and yet most ignored aspect of society; rape culture. It needs to be acknowledged and it needs to be fought. “Asking for it” is a term that is used loosely to justify someone’s actions. Mike hit Sheila… because she was asking for it. Why did you call Sam an idiot? Because he was asking for it. The girl who was obviously drunk and wearing an outfit exposing flesh and cleavage- she was definitely asking for it. It’s a term that is never implied to be literal, however, it has been ingrained in society where it is deemed to be an entirely acceptable justification for an action.
Asking For It tells the story of an eighteen year old Irish student named Emma O’Donovan who literally has everything. She’s extremely pretty, the girls in town admire her and boys lust for her, her parents and her brother love her… what more could she want? This all comes crashing down after she is found curled up in the front garden by her parents following a party the previous night. She has no recollection of the night and opens up Facebook to find tagged photos, comments, more tagged photos and even more comments showing her pink flesh, legs splayed, delicate, bruised and ripped apart.
Emma was written in an entirely different perspective than expected. She is extremely self absorbed, vein, judgemental, arrogant and extremely unlikeable. A character in which it is hard to connect with and therefore, is hard to gather sympathy with. A character in which the ‘shock factor’ isn’t quite there, it doesn’t generate the same reaction as an entirely innocent teenager covered head to toe in a dreary grey school uniform. This is a completely wrong outlook which makes the story so upsetting.
“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”
The book massively resonated with me; it made me feel angry, sad, ashamed and just so incredibly, bloody angry. Emma, at first, denied the rape- it was only until the teacher suggested that it was made Emma realise the severity of the situation. The book explores the constitute of rape and what is deemed as consent.
The treatment she got from ‘friends’ who literally shunned her for being too ‘promiscuous’ was shocking to read and yet it is not uncommon for victims to be treated in this way. As a reader, the book covers questions that are left unanswered and it is so clear to see who is in the right and wrong. It was massively eye opening to read. I never understood quite the consequences of how something so drastic and deprecating can leave a victim. How they react and how much it damages their lives.
It is a book that I massively urge anyone to read of any age and gender. Except from young children- the language and scenes are wayyyyy too explicit for the youthful mind.