By Louise O'Neill
Published by Quercus (3 September 2015)
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 . . .
I was told by a friend (Liz of Liz Loves Books) that Asking For It was a book that I HAD to read. Not just me, but everyone. So I bought it. And yes, I agree. Asking For It IS a book that has to be read.
I read this in one sitting. It's thought provoking, sensitive and emotional. It's a Young Adult book, but shouldn't be viewed in that way as it tackles some serious issues about 'consent' and whether a girl or woman can be 'asking for it '. Can a girl deserve everything she gets because she's not always the nicest of people? Because she wore the wrong clothes? Because she drank too much? Or just because…? And what if the perpetrators of this crime are the town's heroes, the golden kids who can do no wrong?
Louise O'Neill has deliberately created Emma, her main character, to pose these questions. And she isn't afraid to cover a controversial topic, bringing it into the public domain.
Asking For It has a simple enough plot. It's graphic in places, but no more than it needs to be. To shock. To have impact. The actions of the teenagers in the book may shock the reader. But they also have an impact on their whole community, not just them and their families.
This is a book that pulls at your heartstrings and leaves you with tear-sodden tissues and a thumping heart. The ending is ambiguous, yet I feel it's meant to be - it leaves you thinking, to make up your mind about the future. But will it be the one you expect?
Look out for the #NotAskingForIt on Twitter.