The book in question is The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven, and in the blurb and other reviews I had read, it promised to be a feisty, fun, fabulously feminist read, so I couldn't wait to get stuck in.
The Exact Opposite of Okay follows Izzy O' Neill, as she navigates High School, her dream of becoming a big-shot comedian in LA, and the vicious rumours flying around about her sex life. Soon though, it isn't just about some rumours and a malicious website - Izzy becomes the face of a national scandal, threatening to throw everything she has ever worked for into jeopardy. Why is everything she does suddenly everyone else's business? Izzy has to find a way to hold her head up high and fight through the hatred, but will the pressure prove to be too much?
Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...
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...
This book was unlike any other YA novel I have read before. Izzy O' Neill is a fantastically distinctive protagonist, and I fell in love with her voice from the very first page. She is passionate about what she loves, is blazingly confident, and cares deeply about her friends and her grandmother, who is also her carer, after her parents died in a car accident when she was little. Izzy isn't afraid to talk about the things others would cringe away from: sex, periods, white privilege. This was so refreshing to me, especially as some authors really don't get the 'teenage voice' at all. Steven nailed this brilliantly.
I think at times I found Izzy slightly callous, however I think this is what makes her more realistic, and ultimately the real hero of the story. She has to battle through a lot, and I know if I had to go through some of the things she goes through in the book, I wouldn't emerge from it gracious and smiling and ready to offload forgiveness to everybody who ever did me wrong. I think Izzy is presented as every teenage girl in YA should be presented: determined, sure of herself, a tendency to make mistakes, because everyone does at some point in their lives. Steven does not force upon her readers a moral in her story, aside from accepting your mistakes when you make them, sticking up for your friends, and never ever standing for any BS from anyone.
There were so many issues that were really well dealt with in this story: slut-shaming, sexting, cyber-bullying, white privilege, and the horror of the so-called 'nice guy'... shudder... There were some absolutely horrific moments in this book and Steven didn't shy away from exposing the nightmares that often haunt teenagehood. How she managed to fit so much in to one novel and it still be a cracking read is beyond me, but I very much enjoyed it and it would have filled my teenage heart with hope that things really would get better!
Keep your eyes peeled for more book reviews coming soon...
Buy The Exact Opposite of Okay here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Exact-Opposite-Okay-Laura-Steven/dp/1405288442
Check out Laura Steven here: https://www.laura-steven.com
Until next time :)