Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Book Review: Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Title: Asking For It
Author: Louise O'Neill
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Young Adult, Feminism
Publication: September 2015

Photo by SARBPhotography

"It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is 18 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 towns heroes..."

* Spoiler Alert * Trigger Warning *

Where do I even start here?

This book has been on my Amazon wish list for months since I read Only Ever Yours. It was only a week ago when I saw it in my local library in the 'summer reads' section that I leapt on the book. I was so excited, I came home and read about half of it in one go. I am a huge book reader but recently I've been struggling to find an author that sucks me into the story. 

I didn't have that problem here.

For me, Louise O'Neill is that kind of writer where she doesn't tell you how the main characters feel, no, she makes you feel what that character is feeling. When I read the first half of this book, I felt as if I was in a trance. I felt raw and I felt like I was Emma. This is a book that is very hard to put down, you have been warned.

Emma is a complicated character, she can be hard to like, perhaps even hard to understand but how people react to what happened to her is even harder to understand. Let me be clear, no one is ever asking for it. Ever. The way Emma was made to feel and the fact she didn't even want to say anything in the first place only solidifies the fact that as a society, we have been ingrained to think that it's our own fault when bad things happen, and Emma especially believes that.

The book is split into two sections, pre-assault and post-assault with a year in between. And what a difference a year can make in the narrative of our main character. This story opens up the discussion about rape, mental health and what is and isn't consent. 

When I was reading this book, not once did I think she deserved it or she did act promiscuous. I was firmly against the idea that anyone can bring any assault like this one onto themselves. It's not possible. There is no way to prevent rape. It's not about how you act or what you wear because let's face it, wearing unflattering clothes has never prevented a rape either, it's about what society deems acceptable. And society is against women.

Can we talk about Bryan? Her older brother? Out of the reviews I have read, not one person has spoken about him. He was the only one who saw through her act and really tried to help her. In the book, he was the only character who even tried to care for Emma and do what was best for her. Everyone else was just begging for her to withdraw her complaint, which she eventually did, and only after she did withdraw her complaint, did her family (excluding Bryan) actually start supporting her decision to withdraw. Not before did they support her, but after. They were relieved to not have to deal with Emma's problems anymore. It's disgusting.

This is a book I will always treasure and one I know I will re-read in the future.

This is a harrowing, emotional and raw tale and one I think everyone should read. The writer, Louise O'Neill, is a powerful one and knows how to make us think and feel exactly what she wants us too, and what a talent that is. I personally cannot wait for her next book. 

Her afterword is powerful, unfortunately, I can't find the whole thing online and I can't type it all up so I'll give you what I did find and let you end this blog with Louise O'Neills own words.

“We teach our girls how not to get raped with a sense of doom, a sense that we are fighting a losing battle. When I was writing this novel, friend after friend came to me telling me of something that had happened to them. A hand up their skirt, a boy who wouldn’t take no for an answer, a night where they were too drunk to give consent but they think it was taken from them anyway. We shared these stories with one another and it was as if we were discussing some essential part of being a woman, like period cramps or contraceptives. Every woman or girl who told me these stories had one thing in common: shame. ‘I was drunk . . . I brought him back to my house . . . I fell asleep at that party . . . I froze and I didn’t tell him to stop . . .’ My fault. My fault. My fault. When I asked these women if they had reported what had happened to the police, only one out of twenty women said yes. The others looked at me and said, ‘No. How could I have proved it? Who would have believed me?’ And I didn’t have any answer for that.”
― Louise O'Neill, Asking For It

Have you read this book? What did you think? Or has this made you curious to read the book? Let me know in the comments down below!


  1. Very lovely book review. I will look out for this next time I'm in a book shop or on Amazon book section.

  2. Oh gosh not sure if I could read this, thought provoking title too x

  3. Oh wow this sounds really interesting, I fancy reading this and seeing what it's like!

  4. Sounds very interesting. Will add it to my list x

  5. Sounds an interesting book with a powerful message x

  6. Interesting narrative but definitely not one for me, I am more war and serial killers, real life crime sort of books.

  7. A very powerful storyline from the sound of your review, one I might have to look at x

  8. Wow! Sounds like a great read! I wish I had more time for me to be able to read more . x

  9. Wow sounds like an interesting read. Not sure I could read it though! Great review xxx

  10. Great review, can't remember the last time I read anything but The Gruffalo!

  11. Great review, Shannon. Detailed, thoughtful, informative. Well done!

    1. If anything, maybe discuss the author's style more, not only the story itself.

  12. I read this over the summer and I just loved it, like you I found it hard to put down. So hard to read but I am so glad I did and I would urge everyone else to read it too, really changes how you think. I am so glad I came across your blog, it's so lovely.. I love finding new ones like this to read! x

  13. Sounds very interesting. I'm sure not an easy read for some but I might just have to put this on my wishlist too! x

  14. I've read this and it was a very powerful and emotional read. I couldn't put it down.

  15. Not read a book like this in a long time. Think I will add it to my list


  16. This book is very helpful. recommended for girls who are growing up so that they know how to keep themselves when they want to have fun ..
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  17. Not sure this is the book for me, but interesting topic.


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