Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
‘Look, you probably bought this book because you read the blurb about how I’m an impoverished orphan and also at the heart of a national slut-shaming scandal, and you thought, oh great, this is just the kind of hart-wrenching tale I need to feel better about my own life, but seriously, you have to relax. I’m not some pitiful Oliver-Twist-meets-Kim-Kardashian-type figure. If you’re seeking a nice cathartic cry, I’m not your girl.’
Despite losing her parents at five years old and being raised by her grandmother, Izzy O’Neill has a pretty sweet life. She won’t be able to afford to go to college, but at least she has the love of her two best friends, Ajita and Danny, and her love of comedy to get her through.
Then Danny starts acting weird, making things uncomfortable for their little tripod. Ajita thinks he likes her, but Izzy dismisses the idea: he’s practically her brother. That would just be gross. And anyway, Izzy has a burgeoning crush on class clown Carson Manning.
When Izzy sleeps with two guys at one party, she doesn’t think anything of it. She’d prefer it if Carson didn’t find out that she had sex with Vaughan, the senator’s son, earlier in the evening, but it was her choice and she doesn’t regret it. A vagina’s gotta do what a vagina’s gotta do!
Until someone starts a site called Izzy O’Neill: World Class Whore, featuring tales of Izzy’s sexploits, intimate details which no one should know… And pictures of her and Vaughan doing it at the party.
The Exact Opposite of Okay deserves an award for Most Quotable Book Ever Published. In fact, I’m going to put my five favourite quotes from the novel at the bottom of this review, because Laura Steven’s writing is utterly relatable.
There were moments when I was struck by how deeply I connected with Izzy, and I’m certain that there will be multiple occasions when you find yourself thinking, “I thought I was the only one that did/felt that!”. It’s reassuring, and means it could also win an award for Most Relatable Book Ever Published. It’s going to become the bible of teenage girls across the globe.
Although Laura Steven is from the UK, The Exact Opposite of Okay is set in an American state where revenge porn is still legal. As more states are outlawing this heinous act every day, this book couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time. Hopefully it will be completely irrelevant within a couple of years; not because it’s not worth reading, but because revenge porn shouldn’t be thing that people can get away with. It would be wonderful to read this book knowing that the culprit would face consequences for their actions no matter where the events took place.
Steven makes sure to emphasise the fact that Izzy is not to blame for what happens to her, and I’m hoping that the message will hit home with her readers. If this happens to you, it’s not your fault. If it happens to someone close to you, support them! It’s easy to judge people, but it’s not right.
This is a book that everyone should read. It’s as simple as that. I wish it had been published when I was a teenager, because as well as tackling slut-shaming and revenge porn, it also debunks the myth that you need to know what you’re doing with your life at such a young age. I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life, and I’m 22 next month! Reading The Exact Opposite of Okay has made me realise that it’s okay to not know what I want to be when I grow up: as long as I do things I enjoy and keep my friends close, that’s all that really matters.
Without further ado, here are my five favourite quotes from The Exact Opposite of Okay:
‘It’s funny that the horny teenager stereotype tends to refer only to boys. Things I have been aroused by lately: cherry-flavored lip balm, a fluffy blanket, a particularly phallic lamppost.’
‘”So hey,” he says, slurring his words slightly. “I found your blog.”
Any blogger in the history of the internet will understand the sheer horror and humiliation associated with this sentence. It is the stuff of nightmares. It is legitimately enough reason to load yourself into a cannon and fire yourself into the ocean, clutching your laptop to your lifeless chest.’
‘I honestly believe there are not many people on this planet that I would not kiss. It’s just not a big deal to me.’
‘I’ve always been the kind of overthinker who has full-blown confrontations with people entirely in my brain. Sometimes I even imagine myself into a bad mood with a person even though they’re entirely unaware that we fell out inside my head.’
“How the hell are we supposed to have it all figured out by the age of eighteen? We don’t even know who we are yet, and still we’re expected to choose what we want to do with the next fifth years. It’s madness.”
Okay, I’m struggling to narrow it down to just five quotes – it’s genuinely THAT quotable! – so here’s one more gem for you:
‘The way the world treats teenage girls – as sluts, as objects, as bitches – is not okay.
It’s the exact opposite of okay.’
I got my proof of The Exact Opposite of Okay at YALC back in July, so these quotes might not be 100% accurate when compared with a finished copy of the novel (but I haven’t had a chance to get hold of one yet, so forgive me if there are any discrepancies!).
If you’re interested in learning more about The Exact Opposite of Okay, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
I hope you enjoyed this review. Have you read The Exact Opposite of Okay yet, or are you going to rush out and buy a copy as soon as you can?