REVIEW: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

*Trigger Warning*

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Title: Asking For It

Author: Louise O’Neill

Publisher: Quercus Publishing

ISBN: 9781848664173

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: “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…”

“We need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent. We need to talk about victim-blaming and slut-shaming and the double standards we place upon our young men and women.

I woke up this morning to see a thread on a quite popular forum in Turkey, that had the phone number to a “man” who was harassing a 12-year old girl with messages sent through WhatsApp.

Last month, everybody who has access to internet or TV and maybe even more people than that (hopefully) was pretty distraught over the Stanford rape case. The thing that was even more disgusting than the whole case was the fact that the only thing newspapers and news agencies talked about in their reports was how the assaulter had such a bright future and how all that future was destroyed because of a 10-minute mistake.

2 months ago, we learned that a foundation constituted to give high-level religious studies and Arabic along with normal studies (as far as I know) with many branches in Turkey was sexually harassing the kids that stayed in their dorm-things. After this scandal, the minister of family and social policies claimed that “something only happened once won’t hurt anyone”.

And maybe there are much more cases than only these three these past 3 months that weren’t reported.

Isn’t it funny how rape and harassment has become such a great part of our society that we can’t spend a month without hearing news about it and it became so frequent that unless it involves death, we aren’t even shocked anymore.

In most cases, unless there is a huge social support gained with the help of social media, the assaulters are defended (I also feel the need to point out the fact that rape doesn’t have gender, so I cannot give a specific gender when I’m talking about this)  because oh have you seen what she was wearing? Totally asking for it.

Or did you know that he was drunk? 

Did you know that he was her ex and refused to have sex with her during the relationship?

Did you know that she was walking all alone in midnight wearing only that?

“They’re good boys really. This all just got out of hand.”


Emma is the prettiest one in her group of friends. She’s so pretty that she makes heads turn to her while walking. And she knows she is beautiful. She is vain, arrogant, maybe a bit bitchy. Maybe this is why she was a character who wasn’t easy to like.

After a party, in the morning, Emma’s parents find her passed out on the front porch under the sun. They wake her up and pretend like nothing happened.

Next day, the once popular and loved Emma O’Donovan is being pushed, called a slut, a bitch, a skank, a whore. And she has no idea why this is happening, just like she has no idea why her friends suddenly turned their backs on her.

Turns out that at the party, Emma was raped by a group of boys and the pictures of it are all over Facebook, Twitter, other forms of social media.

But what Emma’s peers don’t notice is that she is unresponsive, passed out in the pictures.

The case suddenly blows up and now it is being talked everywhere, all around the world. Talk shows, blogs, magazines, Facebook pages: they all talk about Emma and whereas some support her, some people don’t believe her. People think that it has become a trend: having sex and yelling out ‘rape’ the next morning to be the centre of attention.

“My body is not my own any more. They have stamped their names all over it.”

These boys involved are like the golden boys of town, they are star jocks with bright futures ahead of them. I think this is why the whole town -excluding Emma’s friends- refuses to believe Emma’s claim. The boys in their head and the boys who apparently raped Emma do not match. They don’t believe the girl who has a past with boys, men and sex, they believe the boys who almost take the town to the championship.

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” 

Finally, in my opinion, the saddest thing of all these was how Emma wasn’t able to find the support and love she needed from her family. From the start, it is obvious that they have quite the dysfunctional family with less love than you normally see. After what she had been through, Emma still had to be the one making sacrifices just for the sake of her family.

If you want to read a book where the rape victim becomes an inspiration or a hero, don’t think about buying this book. Asked For It is about giving up, having to make sacrifices and being tired. It is about being scared and maybe terrified, for yourself and for the world, not having enough courage to change something.

Asked For It handles the raw truth about rape, harassment, slut-shaming and consent along with the impact of peers and peer pressure on teen life in a terrifyingly heartbreaking way.

 “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.”

Where to Buy: Amazon // Book Depository

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