This book was absolutely incredible. A review on the front cover from the New York Times describes it as ‘essential’ and I completely agree. It’s a comment on a culture in which girls are encouraged to be promiscuous, but punished for doing so, and in where ‘boys will be boys’ reaches a critical stage. The only way I can describe it is harrowing and I had to read it practically in one sitting because I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I put it down.
The plot revolves around Emma O’Donovan, a popular, beautiful teenage girl in a Cork school who is raped while unconscious at a party and only finds out from the photos uploaded to social networks. It strongly echoes several rape cases, particularly on American campuses, where the focus has been on the ways in which conviction would affect the sports careers of the rapists, not on the victims. The parallels between the story and real cases made it all the more traumatic; every over-arching theme and every action of the characters was so rooted in a sad reality that it was hard not to be affected.
If you’re expecting a story of overcoming trauma culminating in justice and a happy ending then this is not the story for you. It’s hyper realism, not optimism about our society. But to me that’s a story that’s very, very needed.
The photo I took for this post was a tricky one. I didn’t want to take a photo that was too artsy, and so I went for a different approach. One in Four is a charity in Ireland that provides services for victims of sexual abuse. The birds on my arm are a representation of their logo and I encourage you all to go visit their website and consider a donation.