As the title suggests, this is a book to read only if you’re feeling strong enough for something traumatic.
I got this a few years ago after reading Only Ever Yours, O’Neill’s first novel, a dystopia in which girls and women exist only to serve the pleasure of men. The ending was incredibly dark, and that’s partly why it’s taken me until now to pick this up.
While Asking for It is a work of fiction, the events it describes reflect reality, not fantasy. Set in a quiet Irish town, the book follows 18 year old Emma O’Donavan before and after she is raped, going from envied and coveted local beauty to ‘slut’ as the events become public.
O’Neill pulls no punches in exposing how our societies’ reflexes are usually to question, undermine and further traumatise women and girls who come forward to report a rape. It’s haunting, gut-wrenching stuff, and I wish anyone who’s ever said or thought “she is/was asking for it” would read it.