Hardcover, 336 pages
Published by Quercus US
Publication Date:April 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars
Synopsis: Emma O’Donovan is eighteen, beautiful, and fearless. It’s the beginning of summer in a quiet Irish town and tonight she and her friends have dressed to impress. Everyone is at the big party, but all eyes are on Emma.
The next morning Emma’s parents discover her in a heap on the doorstop of their home, unconscious. She is disheveled, bleeding, and disoriented, looking as if she had been dumped there in a hurry. She remembers nothing from the party.
That day several devastating photos from the party are posted online and go viral, eventually launching a criminal investigation and sending the community into tumult. The media descends, neighbors chose sides, and people from all over the world want to talk about her story. Everyone has something to say about Emma, whose life has been changed forever by an unthinkable and all-too-common act of sexual violence, but all she wants is to disappear.
Trigger Warning *rape*
This is a story about Emma O’Donovan whom is easily recognized as the Queen Bee and the girl everyone loves and hates. She revels the attention. Her character is shallow and despicable, but she has thoughts everyone has. She makes sure guys notice her and if a guy doesn’t like her, she wonders why. She’s jealous of her friends and seeks to be center of attention all the time.
Louise O’Neill creates an unlikable main character that experiences something awful and because you’re reading Emma’s thoughts, she proves no matter how awful someone can be, no one deserves to be raped. No one asked for it. She confronts sensitive themes that are highly important and forces you to view the ugly truth of slut shaming, victim shaming, sexism and ignorance. She answers raised questions that tend to swirl around rape where people question whether it’s justified as rape or not. What if she was drunk? What did she expect would happen in an outfit like that? She chose to dress that way so wasn’t she asking for it? What if she made the first move? O’Neill fights against these questions.
I’ve read books with similar themes such as The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith and Exit, Pursued By a Bear by E.K. Johnston, but this book was a difficult read. I actually had to put down the book multiple times because it was hard to handle. Emma’s story is so raw and real. O’Neill didn’t make the girl innocent, she wrote a book about a girl who was petty and was raped while she was high and drunk, and then tried to defend her own attackers and deny anything happened because she’s too ashamed. The same thing happened to her “best friend”whom she told to keep quiet because no one likes a girl who makes a fuss. This book makes you frustrated as hell because Emma is raped, but yet she continues to blame herself because she thinks she’s ruining her rapists’ and parents lives. She thinks it’s her fault.
Throughout the story you feel for Emma, you want to shake some sense into her and hug her tight at the same time. You get to know her and your heart breaks because it didn’t matter how horrible Emma was and that she was under the influence because she was still raped. She didn’t give her consent. But accumulating evidence and going to trial is a slow process and Emma is closer to giving up day by day. You root for her and scream at her parents and your heart breaks to pieces.
This isn’t a heart warming story, it’s a painful raw emotional ride. O’Neill is brutally honest and doesn’t shy away from reality. She writes exactly how it is. Asking For It is such an important read that I recommend to all men and women. This book received a 5/5 stars from me.
Until next time,