Asking for It

304p. ebook available. Quercus. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681445373.
RedReviewStarGr 10 Up—Proud, gorgeous, vain—at 18, Emma O'Donovan is the "It" girl of her small Irish town. She dreams of passing her leaving exams in a year, going to college, marrying a rich man who can finally buy her what she deserves, and living happily ever after. Then she takes a pill from a boy at a party. Emma wakes up the next afternoon, dumped on her parents' doorstep with her dress on backward, no underwear, and no recollection of what happened after she kissed her best friend's boyfriend, but the pictures posted on Facebook and SnapChat tell the full story in lurid, shockingly graphic detail. Overnight, she is renamed "Easy Emma" and slut-shamed as the rumors circulate about what happened that night: Was she really drugged and raped by four boys, or was she asking for it? O'Neill's powerful novel digs into deep questions about rape culture that are difficult to read but essential to consider. Sensitive teens may have a hard time reading about the protagonist's downward spiral. Her shame and self-loathing are contradicted by what the rape counselor tells her ("It's not your fault") and are confirmed by what she hears from the town ("You are destroying those poor boys' lives").
VERDICT More graphic and grim than Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, this UK import nonetheless is an important read for mature teen audiences.

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