After reading the shocking and thought provoking book by Irish author Louise O’Neill, Shirley Donlon reviews “Asking For It”.
Written by up and coming Irish author Louise O’Neill, Asking For It, a fictional story, tells the shocking tale of the victim of a modern day rape case. 
 
Emma O’Donovan, the main character, is 18 years old and beautiful. People from all over the small town of Ballinatoom are used to being stunned by her natural beauty and model-like features, but one night this changes and everyone sees Emma in a different light. 
 
One Sunday morning Emma’s parents arrive home from a weekend away to find their daughter lying motionless in the porch of the house like a “plastic bag” of rubbish.  
 
With bruises all over her body and pain she has never felt before, all that Emma can do is try to piece together what happened the previous night at the party. 
 
However when photos emerge on a social media website, Emma doesn’t have to wonder what happened for long. Everyone in the town of Ballinatoon sees exactly what happened that night. 
 
This novel highlights the importance of sexual consent and illuminates the destructive power of social media today, while also drawing attention to the issue of rape culture. 
 
Last month, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, launched the ‘Ask Consent’ campaign. 
 
This campaign aims to raise awareness about and tackle the issue of sexual consent and to establish to students that sex without consent is rape. 
 
Asking For It contains explicit scenes and strong language which may seem too graphic for a younger audience, but I cannot recommend this novel enough.
 
With the high concentration of social media websites all over the internet, there is always a possibility for cyber bullying to occur and Emma O’Donovan finds herself in the middle of her worst nightmare when she goes online to find extremely inappropriate, explicit images of herself and several boys at the party all over her news feed. 
 
The story develops as Emma, little by little, is shut out and ignored by the people of Ballinatoon and the aftermath of the incident leaves Emma depressed as the community starts to believe that Emma was not, in fact, raped.
 
With her parents ashamed of their daughter and the constant replaying of those horrific images from the party in her head, Emma declines into a heavy depression and finds herself losing the will to fight for her rights. 
 
This novel, written in such fantastic detail, highlights, in the most haunting and chilling way, the shocking reality that is the culture in which we are living. 
 
The extremely talented Louise O’Neill has taken a number of current and important issues; sexual consent, rape culture and the power of social media; and carefully weaved them into the story of a young Irish girl who was the victim of a rape incident. 
 
Asking For It is a gripping, interesting and extremely valuable read for young adults to learn about different issues that exist in our society today.