Book review: Asking for It by Louise O Neill @oneilllo @QuercusBooks


Go Book Yourself | Book Review | 03/9/15

Book review Asking for it by louise o neill

Published: September 2015
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Soft back ARC
page count: 298

Thank you to Quercus and Hachette Ireland for providing the review copy

“What guy was going to say no if she handed it to him on a plate?...She was fucking asking for it

I was about 5 pages into Asking for it when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put it down, that it was one of those books that would leave me racing to my computer to write this book review.

 It’s the start of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma is confident and knows she is beautiful. She uses her beauty to impress people. She adores attention and is only completely happy when all eyes are on her.

Emma is not a character that we are supposed to love off the cuff. She can be quite arrogant and in your face. I think this rams the point home even more. No matter who you are, whether you’re a saint or sinner, you don’t ask for this and you don’t deserve it.

I got quite angry when I read some of the reviews. One reviewer said she couldn’t feel sorry for Emma because of the way she behaved before the incident. Hello!!?? That’s the point. It doesn’t matter!

It was heart-breaking to see the whole town turn on her. The incessant name calling is relentless. Liar. Skank. Bitch. Whore. Kill yourself. She hears these words over and over. They become tattooed into her mind. When you hear something over and over you can’t help but start to believe it.

Asking for it is a book full of victim blaming and Stereotyping. The small town mentality where boys will be boys but girls must be virgins.

“Skirts up to their backsides, and tops cut down to their belly buttons, and they’re all drinking too much and falling over in the streets. They’re practically asking to be attacked, and when it happens, they start bawling crying over it. As your other man said, what do they expect?”

This floored me. After reading I saw an article in the paper. They were interviewing a woman who blames herself for her attack because of what she was wearing. I don’t care if you run around the streets naked. This just shouldn’t happen. Instead of calling men up on their behavior we assume that they turn into some form of wild animal that can’t control themselves. Instead of telling women how to dress, teach men not to rape.

“I am not a girl anymore. I am an it. I am a collection of doll parts, of pink flesh, of legs spread open for all to see”

Emma’s attack goes viral on social media. I won’t describe the pictures because I feel it’s something you have to experience while reading the book. What surprised me is that even though these men were easily identifiable in the picture the blame was still placed on Emma. In fact it got worse. Now she was ruining their lives, jeopardizing their futures! All while she was being treated like a used play toy that is only fit for dumping.

“if they are going to insist on getting so drunk that they can barely stand, then they must be prepared to bear the consequences. “

The victim blaming is what really breaks Emma. It’s her fault, all her fault. She did this, she did that, she should have been more careful, and she was blind drunk. No one bring up the fact that if you are unable to say yes (for any reason) then the answer is no. No one questions why these men didn’t simply avoid her if she was in such a bad way. Why take the risk? They took the risk because society does not deter people from taking that risk. It’s always someone else’s fault. She’s just a skank, a liar and a whore. She was asking for it.

Asking for it is a book that will make you sad, frustrated and it will also blind you with rage. And I’m so glad I read it. I would encourage every young adult 9 and older adult) to read this book. Male and female. Aside from the fact that it’s really well written it raises some really important issues around victim blaming, consent and respect.

This book has been one of my top reads of the year so far. If you liked only ever yours then you’ll certainly want to read Asking for it. The quality of writing is the same but Louise has stepped it up a gear.

Asking for it is a fiercely raw read.



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