Format: Paperback, 335 pages
Published: 8th March 2018 by Electric Monkey
Genres: Young adult, contemporary, feminism
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has…
Bear with me, there are gonna be a lot of quotes in this review because, basically, this is the most quotable book I’ve ever read. Izzy O’Neill is the funniest protagonist I have ever read, although it’s borderline annoying how she constantly uses humour as a coping mechanism instead of facing up to her problems, but dealing with emotions is a journey, one that we all must make (slightly paraphrasing Gandalf here).
The problem is, even the most basic entry-level jobs now require at least three years’ experience, a degree in astrophysics and two Super Bowl trophies to even be considered for an interview.
So, Izzy’s struggles aren’t limited to being broke and brought up by her grandmother who has to work some 60 hours a week in a diner just to pay bills and rent. No, little does Izzy know when she attends a party one Saturday evening, she’s about to find out just how cruel the world can be…
It always leaves me feeling kinda empty when people preach “follow your dreams” to those with “do what you gotta do” kind of lives.
When someone sets up a website targeting Izzy and her sexploits, Izzy tries to ride the waves. She laughs along with her classmates, but when Izzy’s nudes surface, it gets a little harder to breathe, let alone laugh. Izzy finds herself more alone than ever, although constantly surrounded by swarms of photographers and journalists, because, you guessed it, this particular teenager’s sexploits become a national scandal when a politician’s son gets caught up in it.
How the hell are we supposed to have it all figured out by the age of eighteen? We don’t even know who we are yet, and still we’re expected to choose what we want to do with the next fifty years.
This novel should be required reading for everyone who doesn’t understand why slut-shaming is wrong. The ultimate take-away message from this story is if men can take nudes and have sex without it becoming a national scandal… why can’t women? (Hint: the answer is misogyny.)
I honestly do not know why guys think solicited dick pics are a turn on. Like, have they ever seen a penis? Do they really look at their own genitals and think, “Yeah, that looks good.” No. Exactly.
Something that slightly irked me about this book was just how much of an adult Izzy seemed – I was only reminded she was a teenager whenever she talked about school. But perhaps this is a reflection on how teenage girls are tried as adults, whereas “boys will be boys”. Really though, Izzy’s sharp wit and humour are well beyond her years.
Never trust morning people. They have deeply rooted psychology issues and, as a person with deeply rooted psychology issues, I consider myself something of an expert on the matter.
This novel included an absolute boat-load of diversity: we had explicit ethnically-diverse characters, characters of varying sexualities, explicit mention of a student in a wheelchair (although it is just a mention). Kudos to Steven for trying to include as many social issues as possible (including anti-black racism and mild pro-Palestinian propaganda). But one tip for if you’re trying to write a socially-conscious book – don’t make the Maths teacher Asian.
As an aside, I actually admire people who slut-shame on the internet. Usually when someone has a low IQ they try to hide it, but these guys just throw it right out there in the public domain.
Have you read this book? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!
Header credits: the Enchanted Rose was made by Angraves and gifted to me by my pretty amazing boyfriend, the book was by Laura Stevens, the candle by Etsy user Bookwormcandlescraft and gifted to me by a pretty amazing friend, the bookmark was made by aforementioned pretty amazing friend and can be found here, and the pygmy puff was from the WBST and gifted to me by yet another pretty amazing friend (I know, I’m lucky to know so many amazing people).