Books Magazine

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

By Pamelascott
Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

In a small town, where everyone knows everyone, Emma O'Donovan is different. She is the special one - beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way.

Until that night...

Now, she's an embarrassment. Now, she is a slut. Now, she is nothing.

And those pictures - those pictures that everyone has seen - mean she can never forget.


[My mother's face appears in the mirror beside my own, bright red lips on powdered skin]


(Riverrun, 7 July 2016, paperback, borrowed from my library)



I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is 'a book about a difficult topic'


I really wanted to enjoy Asking for It. I wanted this to be a brave book about the normalising of Rape within our culture and victim blaming. I wanted this to be a book that spoke out against these things.

Sadly, I got the opposite.

What happens to Emma is traumatic. My heart wept for her. What happens afterwards is almost worse; the pictures of her assault, the nasty comments blaming her, calling her names and being ostracised at school. These events are very realistic and portrayed with gut and nerve.

I especially liked the fact Asking for It was narrated in the first person by Emma. Her voice is great. You get insight into her experiences and how they have affected her.

Asking for It is well-written. The author writes about modern teenage life in a very realistic way. I can't fault her for this.

So why am I so disappointed?

The ending of Asking for It sucks. I mean big time. This could have been a brave book speaking out against our sexualised culture, the almost normal occurrence of rape and victim blaming. Instead, the author bottles it and chooses a safe ending. My copy included an interview with the author where she states she chose the ending because she felt it was more honest. Bull-shit it what I say.

I really hated Emma's parents, especially her mother at the end who states they're good boys really, this just got out of hand. WTF? I wanted to hit her. Her father isn't much better. I loved his brother who wanted to fight and kick ass for her.

The most chilling words in Asking for It are spoken by Emma - this happens to girls all the time. It does but that doesn't make something okay or tolerable.

If you want to read a brave book about rape try Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi.

Asking Louise O’Neill

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