Today’s review is on Asking For It, by Louise O’Neill.
*trigger warning: rape*
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As you can see from the title, this book is about rape. Of course such a topic isn’t easy to read about but honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be this affected by this book. Reading it was probably one of the most difficult reading experiences I’ve ever had. But I cannot stress enough how important of a read this is. But on to the review itself.
Emma is one of those beautiful, popular girls everyone pretends to love but secretly hate. One night, there’s a party. The next morning, Emma wakes in her front porch without any recollection of what happen. Unfortunately, a lot of photos surface, really explicit on what happened even though no one wants to think the sport heroes of that town would do that. It’s all Emma’s fault, of course. She was asking for it.
You can easily divide this book in two parts, the before and the after. In the before part, I really couldn’t stand Emma, and her whole circle of friends, family. They’re all very unlikable, I thought. I couldn’t relate to their lives at all and they’re kind of terrible to each other for most of that part. But I think this all set up a more interesting scenario for the rest of the book. That little detail didn’t stop me from really enjoying this part, though. I got really addicted to the book here, making me finish the whole thing in less than two days.
Although, when that party and the whole aftermaths of it came, the read started to become very difficult on me. Most of the rape, when Emma is really out, isn’t described, which I though was good! But then the photos came. That was truly infuriating to me, mostly because, even this being a work of fiction, I know a lot of people (specially girls) have been in that same or worse situation. I felt like grabbing those stupid boys and hit them in the face or all over really. I starting boiling inside furiously and had to remind myself that those feelings I was having were exactly what the author seemed to want. And that those emotions would probably make me want to stand up for these horrible things that happen everyday.
Things don’t really better from there. The author makes sure to really portrait the whole rape culture of western society. How we’re quick to apologise rapists from their “stupid” mistakes and ever quickly blame the victims forever and ever. How they’re whores, sluts and dirty while the others involved just had a lapse in good judgment. How the justice system does not work at all in these situations. This book is raw and there’s no kind of sugar coating in it. The audience is forced to deal with its topics, no way to run from them. And, like the author says, we need to talk and talk and talk about this. We need to do something about it and stop this terrible epidemic in our cultures and lives.
The only thing bad (or less good) I can point out, is the lack of plot. Besides the rape itself, there’s not really much happening. There’s only the (terrible) things Emma goes through before and after that. I didn’t mind that personally, since I think the book is much more than its plot, but I guess it can bore some. I also would love to talk about the accuracy of her feelings but I can’t since I haven’t gone thought anything similiar to her experience. It seems pretty accurate, but there’s no way for me to judge, really. What is spot on is the rape culture itself, of course. There’s also very thought provoking ideas, specially on the meaning and forms of consent and how rape doesn’t just happens between strangers.
This book was definitely an experience, and a very hard one. There’s no way of running from these issues and I wouldn’t want it to be like that. We need to be faced with it more often, in a mind changing way. I can see this book making an impact on others like it did on me and I hope it helps spark the conversation even more. Only we, as conscious citizens of the world, can do something about it. I encourage everyone to read this! It’s going to be difficult but I’m sure, worth it. Please be aware of the things you’re triggered by, though. Read with caution and mostly, put yourself and your mind first.
Here’s an important quote:
They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.
Since this book has been out in Europe for a while, a lot of people have read it already. If you’ve had, please let me know what you think of it!
Anyway, hope to see you around soon!