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…
After reading Louise O’Neill’s debut – Only Ever Yours – last year, I was intrigued to see what else she had to offer. In my opinion, O’Neill’s follow up novel, Asking For It, was much more impressive.
Based on any number of real life stories, the narrative follows Emma – a pretty, popular, slightly nasty girl. She knows that she is good looking and she loves the attention that this affords her. However, one night at a party where she is drunk and has taken drugs Emma is sexually attacked.
But if she doesn’t remember it then it isn’t really a crime…is it?
This is the problem that many people who are attacked face. O’Neill is highlighting the injustices in society by which a girl has to assume a paragon of virtue to be believed if she is ever attacked. God forbid a person dresses provocatively or isn’t virginal. Emma isn’t but that doesn’t mean that she deserves to be attacked. Nor does she deserve the backlash from those who don’t believe her.
O’Neill puts it best in Asking For It when she writes:
“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”
This is the attitude that we have in society and it is wrong. The victim keeps on being the victim long after the rape has taken place.
This is an important book. I really hope that young adults, male and female get the chance to read it and that it isn’t censored by adults. People need to read Asking For It.
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill is available now.
Follow Louise O’Neill (@Oneilllo) on Twitter.