It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident.One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes . . .
A brave, bold and important novel about sexual consent, and betrayal, victim blaming and truth in the age of the smartphone.
What I thought…
This young adult novel is uncomfortable, but the era we are living in is also uncomfortable.
When read on its own, ‘Asking For It’ is confronting. I’ve read it in the context of our society. In recent times we’ve had the Broadcasting Standards Authority turning down a complaint of inappropriateness against a radio station after guests were required to show how far down a cucumber they could bite – a clear reference to oral sex. The BSA refused the complaint because the hosts were known for their humour. The same radio host posted a picture of a contestant of a dance competition with her crotch widely displayed – again in the name of humour. We live in a society where women are viewed as sexual playthings, where degrading them for a laugh is acceptable and this all leads to a very dangerous mindset. And this is the world that our children are growing up in. Our boys will grow to see our girls as targets, and our girls are growing up to accept that image of themselves.
‘Asking For It’ shows us the impact of sexual assault on all who are involved – the victim, the accused and the friends and families. It’s pretty bleak to be honest.
In the afterward, Louise O’Neill writes
We need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent. We need to talk about slut-shaming and the double-standards we place upon our young men and women.
This is an important book for young adults to read – both our young men and our young women and then we need to foster and facilitate discussions around it.
This is not a comfortable book to read. But read it. Share it. Talk about it.
I give ‘Asking For It’ 9/10
(Book supplied by Hachette NZ)