This is a review of a sequel, so there will be spoilers for the first book, The Exact Opposite of Okay, in the below review. To find my review of the first book, please click here. Otherwise, this review will be spoiler-free.
Name: A Girl Called Shameless (The Exact Opposite of Okay #2)
Author: Laura Steven
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Publisher: Electric Monkey, Egmont
Format: UK Paperback
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Izzy O’Neill: Writer, Activist, World’s Worst Waitress.
It’s been two months since eighteen-year-old Izzy O’Neill was slut-shamed in a national scandal. As well as coming to terms with the fact that thousands of people have seen her foofer – Izzy is juggling high school, writing a screenplay and figuring out what to do next with her life.
When another girl’s nude photos are leaked, Izzy and the Bitches Bite Back team decide to take action. They’re taking the fight all the way to the top … and won’t let anyone bring them down.
It’s time for the shaming to stop.
A book about friendship, feminism and fighting back.
I received a finished copy for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Exact Opposite of Okay was the first physical ARC I ever received back in 2017 when I first started my blog, and my review of it was one of my first. Imagine my surprise and excitement when I was blurbed in the finished copy. It was the first time my name was published in a book and it could not have been a better book to have my name in. TEOOO came out of nowhere and surprised me, and I became fiercely passionate about it recommending it to everyone I know. I even managed to get my mother to read it. But the thing is, A Girl Called Shameless, impossibly, is even better.
Izzy is back in full force with her ridiculous humour, inappropriate comments and fierce attitude. She never fails to stand up for herself and what she believes in and I spent this book laughing, cackling, crying and filled with rage. This book is a rally cry, and we need to answer it.
“Romance, Gen Z style. We’re broke, woke, and unusually innovative when it comes to gift-wrapping solutions.”
Izzy O’Neill: Comic Extraordinaire – As a narrator, Izzy is probably one of my favourites out there, somewhere near the Nevernight narrator (they’re not similar though, don’t get me wrong, they are very, very, different). Maybe it’s because she’s as crude and sweary as me, or maybe because she’s the kind of funny, strong and fierce I aspire to be. Either way, Izzy has a special place in my heart and always will.
“Milkshakes and matriarchy, the classic combination.”
Narrative style – The narrative style, as mentioned in my review of the first book, reminds me a lot of the Georgia Nicholson books, but it’s even better. Back again is Izzy’s blog posts, copied and pasted into a book, along with her own ‘present day’ comments in square brackets. Trust me when I say that her observations are as astute and hilarious as ever. Honestly, it’s genius. Plus, I really feel like Laura came into her own writing this book. I know she deleted 80,000 words and started again, she went through a lot, but it was worth it because she has created something amazing and hilarious, educational and passionate. I can’t even describe how these books make me feel.
“Mercy. He wants my mercy. He wants me to abandon my pain just to alleviate his own. He wants me to do what women have done for millennia: bury their own hopes and ambitions so the men can chase theirs. And I won’t do it. I wont.”
Feminist rally cry – Izzy’s ordeal is something incredibly relatable for an astounding number of women around the world, but more than that, her feelings surrounding it can be taken out of context and become relatable to even more women. I have become more open about my experiences and mental health in the last few years and if talking about it can help action a change, then that’s what we have to do. There have been too many times in my life when I have felt that my body wasn’t my own. I have felt disconnected from what I see in the mirror, I haven’t felt ownership of my sexuality, as a lot of it was thrust upon me from a young age, but over time I have grown and found my own agency. Izzy’s story, Hazel’s story, they are one’s we know from friends. Their feelings we can find within us. We have suffered, we have been victims, but we will fight. We will find the strength inside us that Izzy found, and I truly hope that there are girls out there who will read this book and realise that they can fight this.
“Hell, there are people here demanding I cover myself up, I censor myself, I deny myself – because the simple idea of a young woman owning her sexuality makes them so uncomfortable they can barely stand to look at me.”
More than just a rally cry, this book is incredibly informative. I feel like people can learn so much about feminism from the entirety of this series. Like I said, I made my mother read it and I feel like she learnt a lot about what school can be like for young girls. Adults often don’t realise what we go through at the age where sex is everything – you’re vilified by your peers for inexperience, and vilified if you’re getting too much. I can’t even begin to explain how refreshing it is to read Izzy’s experience and feel empowered, justified and vindicated.
“If at first nobody stands with you in your fight, it’s okay to demand better from them. And sometimes, better is exactly what you’ll get. And it will feel extraordinary.”
Effortless diversity – Authors take note. I am so freaking done with reading fiction without diversity. Don’t give me your ‘token’ gay, your ‘token’ PoC. It’s 2019 for god’s sake. Which society do you live in where diversity has no place in your day to day? The central cast of characters in this book are socio-economically, racially, sexually and ably diverse. Yes, you read that right, we have central characters who are Nepalese, black, disabled, gay and living beneath the poverty line. And no, it does not feel unnatural, or like Laura is trying to squeeze it all in. If that’s your argument for not having diversity then learn a lesson from this book.
“Nobody wants to be a social justice warrior. They just want shit to not be broken.”
TL;DR – Powerful, fierce and educational. I will recommend this book to the end of my days. If this series doesn’t find its way onto the National Curriculum, the government are missing a trick.
“It’s about consent and shame and bodily autonomy, the right to choose and the right to privacy. It’s about violence against women. It’s about life and death.”
Representation: LGBTQIA+ (lesbian and trans characters), PoC, disabled character, poverty rep / socio-economic diversity, single-parent family.
Content Warning: Slut-shaming, revenge porn, loss / grief, rape threats. Please research for more if you think this book may be triggering.
Have you read A Girl Called Shameless? Let me know in the comments!