This is a really poignant tale about society and the way teenagers are seen and see themselves. This novel is set in a future society which makes what O’Neill does even more clever than initially believed.
So what is it about? We begin by meeting Freida who is an Eve at the School. The School is a place where young girls are placed to be trained, pruned and plucked as the perfect wife for high class sons. The Ceremony is looming and the girls begin meeting their potential future husbands. They have to be perfect in every way to get picked. And more extraordinary than ever to get picked by the best. The School houses some of the biggest bitches, cliques and the claws are out. She is best friends with Isobel yet one day Isobel stops speaking to her. For no reason. Everyone wants the prize but how far will Freida go to get what she wants? Betray the only friend she has ever known?
This is such a hard-hitting read. If you have ever heard of Louise O’Neill’s work then you will know that she doesn’t shy aware from the ugliness of society nor the ugliness of feelings and emotions. Jealousy is a key theme in this book, with the Eves being mainly judged by their beauty and having to fight for the boys attentions.
There are many conflicting emotions and actions and you can feel that things are going to keep taking a turn. What this turn is, is shocking, unpredictable and heart-breaking. The main character is not someone that I initially sympathised with at all. But the more things begin to happen, the more you realise that this is all in the way she has been brought up and the actions are from such a sad and lonely place. It is really moving and teeth clencing at times!
It is such a great read that packs a punch. Despite being set in a different realm, you cannot help but make parallels between their society and ours. Our ideal of beautiful and the way we expect perfect to be. It highlights what that kind of expectation and knowledge does to someone who is growing up and finding themselves judged by such things especially when surrounded by it non-stop as we are with the media.
I wept, got angry, frustrated and heart-broken all within it’s 390 pages. This is not a happy read but by god is it an important one. I adore O’Neill’s writing and cannot wait for more and more of her work. I know that she will continue to tackle issues that are not addressed to young adults.
Only Ever Yours. God, I hated some of the characters. And loved none. But I DID love this book. And what it said beyond the pages.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill