My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 2 days
Pages - 346
Publisher - Quercus UK
Blurb from Goodreads
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 book is NOT for the faint hearted, an 18 year old school girl, popular, the queen bee of her social circle and not the easiest to like character. She is sick of being the "good girl" everything her parents want her to be and decides to let her hair down at at party. However her good time mixes drugs and alcohol and Emma doesn't remember all the events of the evening. It is plastered over social media, her peers are judging her and when Emma realizes what has transpired she feels sick, upset, violated and confused.
So we kick off with Emma, not a particularly nice individual, she goes after other girls men not because she wants them but often because she can. She isn't very nice to her friends and even steals from one of them. She is beautiful, well liked and has high status in her social groups which adds to the image the reader conjures. Then, in the space of one evening it all changes, Emma goes from top to bottom. No longer the top of her circle she is judged, labels like slut, whore, asking for it and worse, photographic and video evidence of the events are up for public viewing. This book is a very uncomfortable read, the issue of consent is raised, how much responsibility lies with the victim. What about when a town judges you, who can say they haven't went a bit wild on a night out and then it all goes wrong and you are judged on previous behaviours.
I think making the character really unlikeable was a very clever move by the author, how quick are people to judge when they hear a rumour, see a photograph, read a news story. Condemn someone with all the facts, throw into it a small town, popular boys and a bitchy girl who is now the one being judged. It makes the reader question how quickly they would jump on the band wagon, how quick do we make assumptions and how much weight does a crime have when the victim is not quite "snow white". Considering how much judgement is passed on rape victims, what their past is, how they behaved, how many people they have slept with, I think for being a fictional story it forces the reader into the uncomfortable position of analyzing their own preconceptions and quick to make judgements. 3/5 for me this time, I found it frustrating at times and I know in some aspects it is mirroring reality but still irritating. If you can make it through the content, rape/consent you really should read it, I think for young men and women a cautionary tale that in reality could happen to anyone.