“The Exact Opposite Of Okay” – A book by Laura Steven, this book was first published in Great Britain in 2018 and is Laura’s first book for young adults, how well she pulled this one off. I found Laura on my Instagram and was instantly interested by the book when she shared pictures of the cover and title, as someone who uses ‘okay’ as a constant barrier really pulled me in to what could have happened to Izzy O’Neil? She not only makes every scenario relatable and modern but hilarious as well, which I know is a difficult combination to achieve in this day and age especially regarding young adults. ‘I am not some pitiful Oliver-Twist-meets-Kim-Kardashain-type figure’ is the kind of line that proved to me this book is fantastic from the second you open the cover to the final page, funny, sarcastic and REAL.
The Exact Opposite Of Okay is one of the best books I’ve read this year, a gripping book in both content and design that pulled me in from the first splash of colour and extraordinary tone of voice to the superb variety of characters running throughout this feminist novel. Laura’s main character Izzy O’Neil, an orphan, aspiring comedian and a national slut or so they say. Izzy O’Neil faces humiliation and constant ridicule for her ‘sexapades’ (her words) and the aftermath of the events following this. She battles gossip and whispers throughout the halls and how her family, friends and even strangers see her in a new light, highlighting deeply the difference in reaction between genders when participating in sex. Did anyone batter an eyelid or even continue reading when it’s from the male side of the story? This book is one of the only books I haven’t been able to put down throughout reading it, I was laughing, crying and cringing from one chapter to another for the whole 400 words. Following Izzy’s journey, how she battled from one heartbreak to the other and feeling everyone of them like it was happening to me, can this story please continue?
This isn’t just wonderfully funny but actually empowering, it paints a picture fantastically of what school and wider range society believes of girls and how they portray themselves. This character’s journey and description makes each and every persona relatable to young adults especially girls. During our lifetime we will have been called one or all of the following at one stage or another; ‘Slag’, ‘Frigid’, ‘Prude’ or ‘Slut’ weather it’s because of our actions, lack of or because they are wanting to embarrass us, belittle us and discourage our confidence. Highlighting the struggle and pressures we receive in schools, parties and even later in life. Many of us throw around the above words without even a second thought and as a society we belittle women in their choice regarding sex or even how they choose to display their own body. Nothing can be correct in our eyes (‘our’ as in society) they are a prude or a slag no in between. We compliment lads for sex and label them ‘top shagger’ like they deserve a trophy yet punish women for the same exact thing for simply enjoying it.
As a young woman who’s surrounded by slut-shaming and gender inequality every single day, this book really drew me into every single letter of every page. I felt even though I couldn’t relate to everything in the book it really made me think and realise how true it is the differences between the genders in regards to this subject in particular in young adults. ‘Slut’ and ‘Slag’ are spread at an alarming rate across social media and shouted in halls to pain and embarrass young woman for their own pleasure no matter what lifestyle they’ve chosen. If they have sex or not there’s always something mentioned to belittle them into a powerless corner of self-loathing, guilt and shame. Slut-shaming and virgin shaming is increasing in modern day society where as many men face high fives, giggles and confidence boosting names for the exact same thing that girls get torn apart for.
I would like to thank Laura Steven for bringing this book to life and really painting a picture of what Izzy O’Neil and her life was like. Reminding me of what struggles society brings on women (and men just the same). I have loved every second of page turning and will go back to this book again and again.