where our team of writers love to talk all things books, sharing reviews, features, lists, interviews and more.

Getting lost in a book is escapism at it's finest and it's what everyone who contributes here thrives on.


The Exact Opposite of Okay | Laura Steven | Review

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.

As far as Izzy is convinced, she is a normal teenage girl. She lives with her grandmother, spends most of her time with her two best friends, and yes, sometimes she goes to parties. Sometimes she drinks. Sometimes she has sex with two guys in one night, one of whom happens to be the son of a Republican senator. Izzy isn't ashamed of that and she knows no one else has the right to shame her for it. Except someone at school doesn't agree. Someone has made a website, detailing all the ways in which Izzy O'Neill is a "world-class whore", including details that no one else should know. Including a picture of Izzy and the senator's son having sex on a bench at a party.

Dealing with the entire town knowing all about her sex-ploits is hard enough, but suddenly Izzy's oldest friend, Danny, is acting weird too, like maybe-he-likes-her weird, and although Izzy tries to let him down easy, Danny doesn't seem to be taking 'no' for an answer. The only things keeping Izzy sane are the screenwriting competition one of her teachers encouraged her to enter, and her best friend Ajita, and even those things aren't beyond screwing up.

Told through blog posts, The Exact Opposite of Okay reads as a feminist manifesto for the digital age. Slut-shaming, revenge porn, and the friend-zone all get a thorough examination through Izzy's story and from the very start Izzy knows exactly who is in the wrong in every case, and it isn't her. Although it can feel at times as though the reader is getting hit over the head with a very specific message, these are important messages to tell and it's great to see a female teenage character who is so confident in herself and her own decisions. 

Of course, as Izzy begins to see the negative effects from the website, and as her friendship with Danny begins to slide rapidly downhill thanks to his ever growing Nice Guy routine, her confidence and strength begin to waver, but it would have been unrealistic if they hadn't. The invasion of her privacy and the subsequent reactions from those around her really knock Izzy for six in a way that is crushingly realistic and important to see, but the real heartache comes when Izzy fears she may have accidentally hurt her best friend, Ajita, or embarrassed her grandmother, who supports her unconditionally. These are the things that truly break Izzy's heart, and her sense of humour is such an integral part of both the story and her personality that it is hard not to feel heartbroken too when her devastation breaks through.

Refreshingly for a teen protagonist, Izzy has no real desire to go to college. It's only her and her grandmother at home and, like plenty of real life teenagers, she knows they would never be able to afford a college education for her, and so she throws herself into writing her screenplay instead, hoping that this passion for comedy might be a better way of making a living one day, and in the mean time, it will be something fun to do while she works, and if it's never any more than that, then that's fine too. Izzy is down to earth and realistic but she is also smart and hilarious and if a film written by her was as funny as her blog posts, then I'd watch it in a heartbeat. The messages in this book are certainly important, but the real enjoyment of it comes from that sense of humour and I defy anyone to read The Exact Opposite of Okay and not laugh out loud at least once.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Blogger's Bookshelf • Theme by Maira G.