Author: Laura Steven
Publication: Harper Collins, hardcover, June 2019
Plot: Eighteen year old Izzy O’Neill knows exactly who she is — a loyal friend, an
aspiring comedian, and a person who believes that milk shakes and Reese’s peanut butter cups are major food groups. But after she’s caught in a compromising position with the son of a politician, it seems like everyone around her is eager to give her a new label: slut.
Izzy is certain that the whole thing will blow over and she can get back to worrying about how she doesn’t reciprocate her best friend Danny’s feelings for her and wondering how she is ever going to find a way out of their small town. Only it doesn’t.
And while she’s used to laughing her way out of any situation, as she finds herself first the center of high school gossip and then in the middle of a national scandal, it's hard even for her to find humor in the situation.
Izzy may be determined not to let anyone else define who she is, but that proves easier said than done when it seems like everyone has something to say about her.
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Favorite Quotes: I’ve always liked Mrs. Crannon, but in a Stockholm syndrome sort of way. I mean, do any of us really like our teachers?
But still. We’re all doomed to a limited number of sun orbits before we finally kick the bucket and end up in the same infinite hell as Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but what we do between now and then barely seems worth getting out of bed for.
Maybe I’m being melodramatic. I just really hate getting out of bed.
Every time I catch myself moping about my general lack of parents, or our dire financial situation, I just remind myself how lucky I am to be raised by such an incredible human being who’s always taught me how to laugh, no matter what’s going wrong in my life.
I smile. I know what’s about to happen. When one of us is scared to do something for fear of rejection, this is how we talk each other around it. By asking “so what?” and forcing ourselves to justify the fear, we soon realize there’s rarely anything to actually be afraid of.
Maybe the fact that we’re so comfortable around each other, to the extent I often FaceTime him from the toilet, is actually a sign we’re soulmates. It’s not exactly how I imagined my first great romance would unfold, but is it really realistic to expect an epic Notebook-style love story in this day and age?
How doth one know that one doth be in love? [I’m unconvinced by the accuracy of my “doth” usage in this sentence, but am leaving it in for authenticity.]
What am I supposed to do now? [I am asking this purely rhetorically. I almost never follow the advice of others due to my insane stubbornness.]
Slut-shaming: in which a woman is labeled a “slut” or “whore” for enjoying sex (or even just looking like they might) and is subsequently punished socially.
Interestingly, only girls and women are called to task for their sexuality; boys and me are congratulated for the exact same behavior. This is the essence of the sexual double standard: boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts.
My Thoughts: This is a funny and poignant book about a girl who is the victim of a double standard. Admittedly, Izzy makes very poor choices and it is hard to watch her sabotaging herself. As a smart but poor orphan, she would be a good candidate for scholarships but she pays no attention in class. She has sex to feel good but doesn’t take basic precautions to ensure privacy. Her grandmother, also a rebel, is not savvy enough to protect Izzy from her own mistakes, unlike the parents of her peers. Izzy has two good friends but miscalculates those relationships too. All her quips (and she is extremely funny) are insufficient to save her from disaster. The real lesson of the book is that the world is unforgiving to women and the steps necessary to safeguard oneself are not required of men.
Giveaway: Enter here for the chance to win one of two copies of The Exact Opposite of Okay between June 5 and 19, 2019 (US only).
About the Author: Laura Steven, author, journalist and screenwriter, lives in England. The Exact Opposite of Okay, her YA debut, was first published by Egmont in March 2018. The sequel, A Girl Called Shameless, will be published later in 2019.