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… (Goodreads)
I added this to my TBR after seeing it on Penguin’s recommended list for books featuring sexual assault. Of course, I had to add it after reading quite a few reviews about it! I have mixed feelings about this book.
I liked the way the book was written. It was split between the before and the after. The during is not featured because Emma can’t remember what happened. During the before, I found Emma to be a very annoying and self centred character. She was good looking and she knew it. Normally, I would run a thousand miles from girls like this, because they are normally the bitchiest. She was a flirt, she wore revealing clothes, because she knew she could get away with it and she did tend to lead and string men along.
The after were the effects on her after she admitted to herself that she had been raped. She struggled to deal with it. She no longer found herself attractive, instead finding herself to be dirty and unwanted. She withdrew from everyone else and became depressed and a recluse. This is also the consequence of the social media aspect.
I think this book sends a very strong message about rape culture amongst teenagers or young people in today’s society. A girl who was passed out because of too much alcohol or because she took something she shouldn’t have taken, who then gets raped, is branded as a slut or a whore on social media, and she told time and time again that she was asking for it. Why would she go out wearing revealing clothing and drink that much, when she didn’t want something to happen to her? I hate this opinion. I am someone who wears (or used to wear before I had a baby and now have baby fat) revealing clothes – does that mean I am asking to be raped because the man can’t handle himself?? *Breathe* This book riled me up.
I was also miffed with the ending. I can understand why the author would write the ending this way, after reading the afterwords, but it still upset me. She got no justice for what had happened to her and she had to act like everything was alright and returning back to normal. I just wanted to throw something when I finished this book!
Overall, I enjoyed this book in the sense that it sent a pretty strong message about rape culture. I thought the beginning was a little bit slow, but when I got into the book, it was a pretty quick read. I gave this book 4/5 stars.