Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The 2015 Catch Up - Part Three!

Phew, I'm finally getting there with catching up with reviews!  Today I'm sharing my thoughts on two YA novels, Kissing in America by Margo Rabb and Louise O'Neill's Asking For It.

Kissing in America - Margo Rabb

I wanted to love this as the protagonist Eva is a) grieving b) a fan of romance books c) always trying to please other people - basically, she's quite like me or at least, me as a teen. 

However, whilst I thought Kissing in America dealt well with grief and the guises it takes, the road trip element of the story (where Eva and her friend Annie head to LA to take part in a national TV contest) felt too condensed - I'd have liked more about the physical journey as well as the emotional one.

A good read.            

Asking For It - Louise O' Neill
This is an incredibly hard book to review. I don't know where to begin!

Asking For It is the story of Emma. 

Emma is flirty. 

She drinks. 

She experiments with drugs. 

She enjoys sex. 

But when Emma wakes up in pain on her front porch with no idea how she got there or why everything hurts, the partygirl front she portrays no longer seems so appealing.  As events unfold over social media and photographs emerge of a completely out of it Emma with a group of boys, Asking For It becomes more and more difficult to read.

O' Neill faces 'consent' head on, and as more and more cases of rape and sexual assault are hitting the headlines it is a sadly necessary topic in YA fiction.  Hopefully Asking For It will also challenge readers to think about how they judge others on appearance and behaviour - something we all do. Emma is not an easy character to like, it's true.  But there was a painful twisting in my stomach as I read about the awful events both on the night of the party and after.  She wasn't asking to be raped.  By very definition, no one asks to be raped.

It is a difficult, difficult read and I won't be coming back to it.  That said, it's a brutally believable and incredibly powerful story.

Louise O' Neill is quickly making a name for herself as the author who'll tackle the taboos head on.  And YA, and indeed fiction as a whole, needs writers brave enough to do that.

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