Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O’Neill
Release: Out now!
Which animal is similar to this book? This book resembles a peacock, in that it’s daring, challenges the ‘normal’ and still is a success. A peacock should be a victim, it should be uncommon and hunted continuously due to its bright colours and huge feathers. In the same way, this book is brave and steps out of most YA books’ comfort zone as it addresses issues so rarely discussed, and in such a blunt and honest way. The story works well and puts across its message in a very clear way, just as a peacock portrays its message clearly to potential mating partners and enemies alike.
The blurb says: frieda and isobel have been best friends their whole lives. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate. But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isobel starts to self-destruct , putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril. And then, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. frieda must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…
The story follows the journey of frieda and isobel (the lack of capital letter is used to symbolise their lack of importance in the world the book is set in) as they go through their last year of education. The goal is to be beautiful and appealing to men so that they can marry the richest and most important men. The school has a ratings system, in which the girls compete against each other in terms of appearance and ‘ladylike’ behaviours.
The book perfectly amplifies the pressure put on young girls in our society to be good wives and to be the perfect kind of beautiful. It puts it in a setting which seems implausible and absurd, but at the same time, isn’t far off what girls around the world experience everyday. It explores feminism and the idea of girls enforcing the idea that girls need to be beautiful, and that they can make it more of a competition.
It deals with issues such as bullying, eating disorders, self-hatred as well as the social pressures within a group of girls. The book is emotional, complex but also very enlightening and forces the reader to think about society in a very different and blunt way.
Overall, this was definitely in my top favourite books I’ve ever read, so I’d give it 10 out of 10 pawprints!