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I really, really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it.
First off, I finished this book a mere fifty-two seconds ago, but I have a feeling it's going to be one of those that will stick with me for a few days and no book I pick up thus after (I'm not sure I'm using "thus" in the right context) will not equal out to how fantastically awesome this book was.
Like Moxie and Nowhere Girls, this book rears up its head against the double standards that are male and female sexual behavior. Let's be real here. This stuff has been going on since you and me were in high school, but for some reason we weren't "woke" (I hate that word. I'm going to say "awake") enough to see how problematic it was. Looking back, there were some things I had seen and heard that were portrayed in this very book.
So, meet Izzy. She has the voice of a person I want to be best friends with. Someone I can wee in my pants with and overeat peanut butter cups with. She is the epitome of a witty, sarcastic and honest person making light of tragic events by laughing about it. She does what she wants and doesn't apologize for it. Basically, the best friend in my head.
We're reading her story through her blog posts where she tells us all about her love for screenwriting, her sassy grandmother and her best friends, Ajita and Danny. After spending a care free night at a party, where she sleeps with two boys from school, her personal life is suddenly blasted online. Now, back in my day where I walked eighteen miles to school barefoot carrying military grade style backpacks, there was no such thing as social media and terms like "slut-shaming" and "revenge porn" were not the norm. Unfortunately, the world we live in nowadays is a tad bit more...how do I say...not...so...private and Izzy's gets to experience that first hand.
If I had a box of these books, I'd just go around and shove them in people's faces and tell them to read it and read it to their daughters and sheesh, read it to their sons. Talk about this stuff. Let them know that bullying is wrong, that slut shaming is wrong, that your entitlement is bull doodie and treat women with respect. It is up to us as parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters to teach our youth. Feminist, non-feminist, whatever. We don't need labels. We just need to respect each other and build each other up and as women it is important to band together against injustice. (I'm going to pull a Mean Girls). Girls, stop calling each other sluts and bitches and start standing up beside each other. We need nasty women. Be nasty.
I gave this book 5 big nasty stars because it was perfect and even though I already read a copy on my Kindle, I am going to go out and buy the book at my earliest convenience. Maybe right now,once I get through the longest review I have eve written. I'm not even sure this all makes sense since my fingers are flying across the keyboard as if at a bad pot brownie.
I am glad books like this exist
Heavily laced with the sarcasm, wit, and self-deprecating humor that are cornerstones of Izzy's personality, the narrative unfolds in a blog post format. It's a perfect vehicle for the candid intimacy with which Izzy shares the ups and downs of her tale. Izzy is a very messy but real character, and I found her confidence in her sexuality and unapologetic attitude about enjoying sex to be quite refreshing. Yet her core, Izzy is still a vulnerable teenage girl, and the moments where she lets herself break down are powerful reminders that the plot isn't pure fiction. Slut-shaming and revenge porn are horrifying realities that high school girls face on a daily basis, and even though Izzy puts on an incredibly strong front she shouldn't have to.
I applaud Laura Steven for tackling such a relevant issue in a way that manages to infuse levity without detracting from the very real, very infuriating dichotomy between how society treats sex when it comes to young men versus young women.
I did feel that the ending came across as somewhat rushed, but it's hard to have any sort of true closure when what Izzy faced is the type of burden that leaves a mark for years to come. Still, I'm excited to see that her story continues in a sequel, A Girl Called Shameless, where I can't wait to watch Izzy continue to take back her own narrative and challenge the sexist notions of the society we live in.
The world really does need more books like this one. Hats off to Laura Steven for capturing such a poignant topic in a manner that manages to be both hilarious and frustrating, but most of all real. I highly recommend giving The Exact Opposite of Okay a shot!
Warm thanks to HarperTeen and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.
Top reviews from other countries
Before reading, I was pretty excited for this book. I'd caught my first glimpse at YALC, failed in my endeavours begging for a copy.
As I was reading, I felt all sorts of emotions. I subjected my friend to a lot of them because she'd already read it. This is a book to make you angry, but it is also gloriously written.
After reading, I sat and stared at a blank wall for a while, trying to get my thoughts into order. Still working on that, really.
I loved everything about this book. I loved the scathing take down of the friendzone, the heartbreaking reality of how girls and boys are treated differently by society, the way it rips into everything that is wrong with lad culture and shaming. It is truly excellent. This book handles the most delicate of topics in the most earnest and sensitive way. It explores the power of words, the stigma behind then.
The writing is peppered with pop culture references. I was immediately grounded in the world, it felt all the more real and relevant.
I particularly loved the depictions of friendship. Izzy and Ajita are the best friends of reality. They know each other's secrets, and even when they fall out they both show that they still care about each other in a hundred little, subtle ways. And Danny. Well. WELL.
Izzy O'Neill is amazing.
The core focus of this novel is the slut shaming Izzy faces. She’s a character totally comfortable with her sexuality and but she’s shamed for owning it in a way men would be cheered for.
Other topics this touches on are:
Family – Izzy’s relationship with her grandmother (her guardian) is great to read about. I wish we saw more about close family relationships in novels.
Male entitlement / ‘Friendzone’ – I don’t want to talk too much about this for fear of spoiling you, but it’s approached in a great way
Class issues – Izzy and her grandmother have trouble making ends meet, while her friends are from well off families. Again this is something we don’t get to see very often and it was incredibly relatable.
While it covers some pretty big topics, it’s approached in a great way. The novel is written in the form of blog posts which gives it the wonderful feel of a friend telling you what’s been going on with her.
This is an important novel, which everyone should pick up.
Honor B xox
The writing was easy to read and the form of the book was refreshing- told from the perspective of Izzy O’Neil’s blog. It only took a few reading sessions to finish this book and I promptly bought the second book after finishing this one because I wasn’t ready to leave the world or the characters. Highly Recommend!
I am old; I am not in the target demographic for this novel. But I am female. And as such I am infuriated, exasperated, yet not shocked that the sexual double standard still prevails.
Being of a certain age, I have read The Second Sex, The Female Eunuch and The Beauty Myth. My hope is that this novel will prove to be a call to arms for all contemporary feminists. And yes, that means men, too. There are still a lot of social constructs, misconceptions and discrimination that need to be dealt with!!!