READ THE WORLD – Ireland: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

asking for it louise oneilEmma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, she’s beautiful and happy. One summer night there’s a party, everyone’s there, Emma is the centre of attention. The next day Emma wakes up on her front porch. She doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else knows. There’s photos taken at the party, that show in excruciating detail what Emma was up to and they are all online. But sometimes people don’t want to know the truth, especially when it concerns the town’s heroes.

Asking For It is a contemporary YA novel but it may not be suitable for younger readers as it does contain strong language and explicit scenes. It’s because it doesn’t tiptoe around rape and sexual assault that makes it a powerful and great book. Asking For It covers a lot of important topics in a realistic way; rape culture and victim blaming as well as looking how something that happens to one person can affect the people around them.

One of the interesting things about Asking For It was that Emma really wasn’t a likeable character. She often thought she was better than her friends and just used them for things and even stole from them to make herself feel good. Though I’m saying she wasn’t always a good person, doesn’t mean that I wanted anything bad to happen to her, no one deserves to be attacked. I think it was a good thing that she wasn’t particularly likeable as so often in books about subjects like rape, the person it happens to is 100% good and flawless but people in real life aren’t like that. It gives the reader complicated feelings about Emma as a person and what she goes through.

Emma lives in a small town in Ireland where everyone knows everyone. It’s a tight-knit community so what happens to Emma has ripple effects across the town, the school and the church have to have their say as well as any radio or TV chat show.

Asking For It is often a frustrating book because it’s so realistic. Emma’s parents don’t know what to do and trying to keep up appearances for the neighbours, Emma doesn’t know how to think or feel and she often blames herself. Asking For It is one of those books you read and wonder how you’d handle in Emma situation or if it happened to someone you cared about, it’s the sort of book that can prompt discussions on consent and the harmful attitude that “boys will be boys”.

While the content of Asking For It might not be suitable for everyone, it is an incredibly important book that’s compelling and thought-provoking and it’s something everyone should read, both boys and girls and teenagers and adults alike. 5/5.


  1. I’m still building up the courage to read this one after being left rather devastated by Only Ever Yours. I have to give the author a lot of credit for tackling such difficult, sensitive subjects so well.

    1. I’ve heard great things about Only Ever Yours and do want to read it soon, but like you I think my emotions took a battering while reading Asking For It so it might be a while before I pluck up the courage to read it. Yes definitely, to see tough yet important topics handled so well is great to see and I hope she gets the recognition she deserves.

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