Blogmas Day 23: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill


Published: 3rd September 2015
Pages: 352

On the twenty third day of Blogmas…


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…


Emma and her group of friends are the popular ones at school. She’s beautiful, catching the eye of everyone, intelligent, confident and has people wanting more from her. Within the first chapter, I noticed how different Emma is between her life at home and when she’s with her friends. Her home life shows how hard she works for the school grades, how her Mother watches her every move and how irritated she becomes by the help she receives. Whereas with her friends, she pretends to forget about school tests, asks as if she hasn’t revised in weeks and constantly puts her friends down with snide little comments.

“I am beautiful. I mouth the words at my reflection. That is something Ali’s money can’t buy.”

As one party ends, another begins but readers are left with a blank memory just like Emma’s. She’s gone from being in a bedroom with a very popular boy to taking prescription pills to the unknown. I was completely hooked to the plot at this stage, fully absorbed in the narrative which truly does shine a light on what happens to women and men every single day. The power of social media really comes into play during the first half of the narrative when readers learn about what happened to Emma. The Facebook page was just sickening, but it does happen in real life and I honestly believed that is why Louise makes a terrific author – she tells the raw truth because people need to hear it.

“I try to remember. I fumble through my memories of Saturday night, but they run away from me.”

A year on and people are still talking about what happened to Emma, only it’s a national news story now with a legal case. Her world has drastically changed from being the popular girl to the girl who some call a victim while others saying she was asking for it. It isn’t just Emma who has been affected by the events of that night, Louise focuses a lot on her parents; how her Mother is hanging by a thread, how her Father pretends she’s invisible and how her older brother is embarrassed but still wishes to protect her. Despite readers only reading from Emma’s point of view, we get a very strong sense of how other people in her circle feel.

“I try to think about what the therapist told me. You’re not going to die, Emma, it’s just a panic attack. Breathe in love, slut, liar, breathe out fear, skank, breathe in love, bitch, breathe out fear. Whore.”

I was quite taken back by the changing of events leading up to the end of the plot. I guess I expected a lot more, a big battle, but instead I feel a little let down by the ending. Despite her love of partying, I was on Emma’s side so when she made a drastic decision in order to keep her family happy, I was shocked. Yet once again, it’s realistic. Louise could have wrote the ending from two very different points of views because at the end of the day, rape is different for every single victim.

Just on a side note, I want to say how proud I am that Louise is not only an author whose work I adore, she’s also a Twitter friend who continually shouts about topics of great importance. It’s people like her that’ll make a difference. Give it a good few years and I bet this will be on the GCSE English Literature curriculum.

Twitter: @oneilllo