Genre: YA, Contemporary
Publication Date: September 3rd 2015 by Quercus Books
Format: eARC from Quercus Books via Netgalley
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…
This is an important book, no question about it. It holds an important message and focuses on a crucial issue in today’s society. Too many stories have been in the news where a criminal – rapist – gets away with his crime simply because he is “promising” in a certain field.
I’m not going to lie, I did at one point want to stop reading, and if I hadn’t been reading it as part of a book club then it’s likely that I would have done. I’m glad I finished it, as it is such an important book and I do feel as though it should be read, but the main character (Emma) is just so unlikeable. I know this is probably deliberate so that it puts the focus entirely on how she is treated (I mean if she were likeable I know I would have felt sorry for her just because she was nice and people were a bit mean), especially considering the vile way people react to everything that happens. I don’t know, all of the characters being truly vile just made it a difficult read, and not because of the subject matter.
This was a gritty portrayal of rape and the effect it can have, there was nothing ‘nice’ or ‘fluffy’ about it, which was fantastic to see. We see the long and short term effects and how Emma and her family deal with the events and this is why I believe this book to be so important. I have read a couple of books that focus on rape, but none were as hard-hitting, and honest, as this one. It lives up to so many true stories of rape, and obviously these don’t cover everyone and their experience, the true stories I’ve heard are all I (fortunately) have to compare it to. I don’t know how a victim would feel about the portrayal in this book, but a lot of people have praised O’Neill’s depiction, and I hope that counts for something.
I enjoyed the writing in this book too, it was fast paced and interesting. The plot was brilliant, there were so many finely thought-out details which were really well incorporated into the story and worked very well overall. The way the media was brought in – as well as doctors and therapists – really shone a light on all sides of the story and thus highlighted every aspect of Emma’s ordeal and suffering. This made it a difficult read at times, due to some of the things that the characters would say or do, but that’s life and what makes this book so great – you have to face up to these views.
Overall the main issue that I had with this book was definitely the characters as a whole. I couldn’t stand any of them, and I’ve said previously on my blog that if I don’t like the characters I do struggle to like the whole book. However, the way that O’Neill addresses the issue (and crime) of rape, highlights all of the injustice in society, and the struggle that the victim has long after the event truly makes this book a must-read for everyone.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars.