REVIEW: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

TEOOOName: The Exact Opposite of Okay
Authors: Laura Steven
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Format: Uncorrected Proof (ARC) Paperback
Source: Electric Monkey Books at YALC
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
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…

KEY WORDS: Feminism, high school, slut shaming, guys are douchebags.

*I was given this ARC at YALC by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The first think I need to emphasise if how fucking important this book is. You need to read it. I don’t care who you are – your age, gender, sexuality, profession are completely unimportant. If you are alive right now, experiencing the world as we live it today, you must read this book.

We’ve come a long way since Hester Prynne pinned a scarlet letter on her clothes and yet, even today the concept of slut-shaming is still incredibly prevalent in our culture. Women are not allowed to be as sexually active, experimental and carefree in the same way as men due to the constant fear of being hated, reviled and abused by their peers of either gender. It’s 2017 for fuck’s sake, we are not in Victorian times offended by the skin around a woman’s ankles. Calm the hell down.

Izzy O’Neill’s story brings to light the harmful bully circles within high schools, the horrifying words of peers when slut-shaming and also the atrocious ideas and behaviour behind friend-zoning and Nice Guy Privilege. It gets better… all this she does with the best sense of humour and Laura Steven portrays this through raucously hilarious commentary from the protagonist.

The novel is written through blog posts, told first person at the time of the incidents, but then copy and pasted into a novel manuscript with present time comments from ‘Future Izzy’. Honestly, the idea of contemporary YA written in texts or blogs or diaries make me gag a little because it reminds me of being 12 and reading The Princess Diaries and Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging but as a 22 year old university graduate who doesn’t often read contemporary YA, this book was everything to me. Format be damned, it was the perfect way to portray Izzy’s inner turmoil at the time and then ‘Future Izzy’ looking back on what had happened in her good humoured, comedienne nature.

I honestly believe that this book should be on school syllabuses. We talk so much about how we need to educate people on issues like this involving revenge porn, slut shaming and the unfair treatment of sexually active teenage girls in comparison to teenage boys. This book does that. Laura addresses this issue with a head on, first person account of someone going through this. If a 16 year old boy reads this and doesn’t think twice about sharing nudes, calling that girl he takes maths with a slut or getting angry when his female best friend doesn’t want to shag him, then I will jump off the balcony of my hotel room.

Thank you, Laura. I wish I had read this when I was in school. Maybe my adolescent years wouldn’t have been so tough.

7 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven

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