January seemed to be about 5 years long, yet February flew by in a blink of an eye. Did I actually do anything in February? March is here, with a lot of exciting books coming our way. One of them is The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven.
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
Publication Date: 8th March 2018
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Format: Paperback, 337 pages
Synopsis: Izzy O’Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by… Izzy never expected to be eighteen and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay. It’s the Exact Opposite of Okay.
The Exact Opposite of Okay has been all over my social media for what seems like forever. Casting my mind back, I think that the hype surrounding this book originally started around YALC last year (note to self, attend this year). When my local Waterstones had a copy in before official publication date, I couldn’t resist buying it. I needed to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
My lopsided boobs have received more press attention than your average international epidemic, which I bet the super-virus population is furious about. All that hard work attempting to destroy the human race gone unnoticed.
The Exact Opposite of Okay follows Izzy O’Neill, a teenage girl growing up in present-day America. At a party, Izzy has sex with Vaughan, a senator’s son outside on a garden bench. She dismisses it as a one night stand and doesn’t give it much thought… that is until pictures of them in the act appear online. Izzy isn’t prepared for the vitriol and hate that is thrown her way, including a blog solely dedicated to slut-shaming her. Together with her best friend Ajita, Izzy is determined to take on the trolls, both at school and online, and show the world that the way she is being treated isn’t okay. It’s the exact opposite of okay. (I wanted to say this, too!)
I want to start this review by saying that I was in a bit of a reading slump before I started reading The Exact Opposite of Okay. I would pick up a book, read a few pages and then abandon it. Rinse and repeat. With The Exact Opposite of Okay, I kept on reading and finished it within a few days, as I was so engrossed in Izzy’s world.
The Exact Opposite of Okay has been one of the most anticipated releases of the year, and I can see why.
Unlike the popular noughties rock band, cute is never what I aim for.
The story is told from the perspective of Izzy, who uses her old blog posts to recount the events that happened. As the story is told via blog posts, it is full of hilarious one-liners. witty observations and pop culture references. There are some cracking discussions in The Exact Opposite of Okay, including privilege, online bullying and sexism, but what I loved the most was the way Izzy completely rips into the idea of the ‘Nice Guy’ and the “friend zone”. Honestly, once you read how ridiculous the concept of the ‘friend zone’ is, you’ll never use the term in a serious manner again.
Throughout the story, we get to know Izzy well, and one thing that I liked about her is that she was quite “forward” (as me mam would say) and doesn’t shy away from talking openly about sex. I also liked how Izzy wasn’t portrayed to be this ‘perfect’ girl – she often spoke without thinking, and made (several) questionable life decisions, but who didn’t do that at 18 years of age? I loved how Izzy’s friendship with her best friend Ajita was portrayed; the way they insulted each other (with love) had me giggling away. Even though I know this was very much Izzy’s story, I would have loved to have gotten to know Ajita a bit more.
The Exact Opposite of Okay pulls no punches in its discussion of female sexuality, in particular how we shame girls who have sex, but then at the same time, shame those who may not be having sex. You know what I mean, the damned if you do, damned if you don’t mentality. Can I just say, it’s 2018 – WHY IS THIS STILL A THING? Laura Steven shines a light on the double standard of how Izzy is treated compared to the guy she had sex with. She is publicly shamed, yet his life carries on as normal.
Even though The Exact Opposite of Okay may be a work of fiction, the issue of ‘revenge porn’ is a real, growing issue affecting teenage girls and young women every day. Laura Steven has done a fantastic job of bringing Izzy’s story to life, and I am delighted that Laura has used her platform to discuss this issue. I was very happy to hear that a sequel is on the way in 2019; we can’t say goodbye to Izzy O’Neill after just one book!
Will you be picking up a copy of The Exact Opposite of Okay?