So how does it feel to be ‘eighteen and internationally reviled,’ the prime casualty of a slut-shaming scandal? Izzy O’Neill tells us straight in this sparky YA debut by Laura Steven. When photos emerge of Izzy, a senator’s son and a frisky episode on a garden bench, she is propelled into a scandal of epic proportions, one in which she is hounded by a society that simultaneously objectifies and shames sexually active young women.
A blistering read, it’ll enthrall the teenage girl in your life. Izzy O’Neill is sassiness incarnate. Smart and strong-willed, she wisecracks her way through the usual trials of high school, until events at a teenage party turn her into the unwilling star of a cruel drama.
Over the course of a boozy and flirtatious evening, Izzy has sex with two guys, one of whom is the son of a prominent politician.
‘I know you’re probably reading this thinking, oh my god, what an unbelievable whore, even though you generally consider yourself to be fairly progressive.’
Izzy believes she happily owns her sexuality and is humiliated when graphic photos emerge on an online blog entitled Izzy O’Neill: World Class Whore.
Her horror spirals as the media gets hold of the story, prompting nationwide debates on teenage girls lack of self respect. Unsurprisingly, school becomes ‘a second circle of humiliation hell.’ Fellow students stalk her, filming the unfolding drama live on social media, while appallingly a sweepstake invites voters to guess Izzy’s weight, bra size and BMI.
Questioning why the guys are not subject to the same level of public scrutiny, Izzy looks to the girls at school for some feminist support, only to have them turn on her too.
When an anonymous ‘Kill yourself slut’ text arrives, it looks like the final blow to Izzy’s damaged spirit. Loudly declaring that the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay, this feisty and unexpectedly funny novel is brilliant kindling for teen political awareness.
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven is published by Electric Monkey, 355 pages.
If you enjoyed this book you might also like Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.