Monday, 23 November 2015

Lit Nit Wit: An ode to Louise O'Neill

The last two weekends I've been working with the same patient in the hospital. There has been a lot of card playing, silly jokes and quite a bit of reading. Last Saturday morning, on the patients tray was a book named Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill. Instantly the name Louise O'Neill jumped out to me. I remember her interviewed on the radio, and my cousin took an Instagram shot of her other book Asking for it. After the assurance from my patient that I could finish it in one day I got to it.

This book is a dystopian future originally for the YA, but has been re-released for all after the publication. I have read a lot of YA in my time, usually after I was deemed a YA truth be told. In this future, women are bred in artificial wombs and raised in special schools to get chosen at 16 by a male also 16 as a wife, if not chosen as a wife, the leftovers become concubines, or are left in the schools to raise the other up and coming girls. The boys continuously watch the girls, over the 16 years and rate them, and nearly always the top ten get chosen by one of the boys. The girls are bred to be pretty with ipads strapped to their hands, social media even though they get the same food and can only see each others feeds. Everyone sees everyone's day and everyone is judged and judged and judged. As Freida and Isabel turn 16  and enter in their final year, pressure builds, tension rise, weights are monitored. I did finish the book in one day. I did cry. This is an utterly heartbreaking book. the patient has to give me a teddy to cuddle as I was so empty after finishing this book. It really looks at an extreme future, where social media presence, looks are the only important thing. The girls only saw pens when the ladies in charge were drawing red circles on the girl who had gained some weight.
There has not been many books where days later I think about the characters and their actions and the whats ifs and if only.

During the week I was again with the patient who had a book voucher and she talked her visitor into heading to the nearest book shop to buy Asking for it, the new Louise O'Neill book. Lucky me I was put with the patient myself again for the weekend, who at one stage refused to speak to me until I had finished the book. This book follows Emma, a very pretty 18 year old before and after an attack on her. It examines societal judgement on women, victim blaming and looks at why so few women go forward after a sexual assault. The thing I most like and appreciate is that I did not like Emma. She knows she's pretty, she takes things from her friends homes. She gets them in trouble and doesn't give a fuck. She is forever in competition with the women around her, just as her mother is. I'm from a small town, maybe not as posh as the one Emma is from, but in every town there are these guys. 19-30, never left the place, maybe went to college near by but hopped back ASAP, haven't a notion of going to Australia or London.They play grand hurling or football, but their not good enough for county. Girls 5,6,7, years younger than them are infatuated with them, if they get any attention off the lad, they become instantly cooler, the only reason they have gotten the attention is cause all the girls that chaps age are in relationships or have left. Those men always annoy me, the biggest case of big fish small pond you'll ever see.

The town is fictitious but the town is in the same county that I live in, so the mention of the clubs and pubs and eventually the mention on the Cork Rape Centre are touches to the book I really like and the term shift, (which means to snog, or make out in other countries).
Cecelia Ahearne is known to write fairy-tales for adults. Im going to say Louise O'neill is the direct opposite. I had to stop reading Asking for it several times cause I knew something bad was going to happen, but I was hoping it would all end "well".  These books should be required reading for everyone of any age. Please read them and tweet at Ms O'neill (@oneilllo) and tell her how traumitised you are, and she'll probably tweet you back