Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.
For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.
Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.
Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…
*Received in exchange for an honest review*
*Thank you Quercus*
Only Ever Yours was a frightening, worrying but such a captivating read. It's unlike any other book that I've read and I'm completely addicted to Louise O'Neill's writing style. This is such a gritty, heartfelt but brutally honest portrayal of the issues of body image and how it's perceived within society. I couldn't put it down. I didn't know what was going to come next. I was desperate to see where freida would be taken. The lack of capitalisation on freida's name is intentional; it's something that O'Neill adds which I think further shows how far below the male characters these girls are considered to be. They're not even entitled to a capital letter for their very own names, depriving them of a sense of identity.
My heart hurt for freida so much in this book. It was a painful but oh so riveting read. I was captivated by this horrific world that these girls are growing up in. The whole reason of their 'birth' and upbringing is to please men. Their entire world is dedicated to pleasing men and becoming so stereotypically beautiful and thin. They are unable to eat the food that they wish to, they must maintain a set weight, bulimia is encouraged and their entire self worth is based upon appearance and their ability to please and reproduce men. I felt so sick reading certain aspects. With prescribed pills every day, personalities squashed into what is considered to be acceptable and what appears to be no rights whatsoever, O'Neill has created a terrifying but entirely plausible world to lose ourselves in.
I'm so glad that I've read this book. I loved everything about it. From the writing style to the subject matter; it handles some really hard hitting stuff. I felt like I wanted to protect these girls from this institution and from themselves. Only Ever Yours explores body dysmorphia so sensitively; it makes for a tough read. I think it's something that is so common right now, particularly with teenagers. Today's society is so based on looks, weight, clothing, branding - everything that doesn't really matter! It doesn't impact on you as a person. O'Neill has written an novel which shows the dangers of allowing ourselves to base ourselves and to judge others on appearance alone. She shows the dangers of this society and how it can affect you mentally and physically.
Only Ever Yours is such a wonderful, exciting but terrifying book. I loved every second of reading it. It made me nostalgic for my university days. This is a book that I'd loved to have studied! It'll definitely be a book that I recommend to so many people to read. It's a book which deals with so many hard-hitting issues with such sensitivity and compassion; I just cannot praise it enough.