Publisher: Quercus Books
Summary: 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… (Via Goodreads.)
Review: Only Ever Yours is a novel that I will not get over anytime soon. Simply extraordinary.
This book is sold as Dystopian/Science Fiction and it is, it is set in a world where girls are no longer born naturally but designed ‘perfect’ in a lab and then sent to a school where they are trained to become either companions or concubines yet I felt like it was set in my secondary school.
The girls in this book are trained to see their value only in beauty, to believe that no matter how hard they try to be beautiful there is always ‘room for improvement’, that intelligence is a negative thing and no matter what their needs are always second to mens.
The thing is a lot of the conversations and actions that happen in this book are things I remember happening when I was at school. A girl you deem prettier than you says she’s fat, you think yourself obese and wind up with an eating disorder. The Queen Bee falls another takes her place and the former finds herself ostracised. You don’t have sex, you’re a prude, you have sex, you’re a slut. This book really is about secondary school/high school and what young girls are put through in order to be seen as perfect.
I think this book is so important because it shows what it is like for young girls and how difficult it is to deal with these impossible standards that are being set for them. You must be beautiful, you must be thin, you must be sexual but not a whore, you must be perfect but remember you will never be perfect.
Body shaming, slut shaming, sexual assault, consent, abuse, addiction, eating disorders, cyber bullying. This book deals with it all and it deals with it in such an incredible way. It puts these issues in the context of a post-apocolyptic world and in most cases when you read dystopian/post-apocolyptic you can say ‘well these are issues we’ll never have to deal with.” Wrong. The issues facing the girls in this book are real and current and not only that they’re encouraged and it’s about time that it is recognised.
I have seen girls count calories and starve themselves so they can look like models. I have watched girls waste away because a “prettier girl” told them she throws up because she think she’s fat. I have heard girls call other girls sluts because they’ve been with more than one guy and then have guys call other girls prudes because they refuse to have sex. I have seen girls give up everything in order to be noticed by a guy only to be discarded in favour of the prettier girl and then deem themselves worthless and at fault.
This book makes you think about everything you ever saw or witnessed as a teenager and even as an adult and opens your eyes to how wrong it all was and how wrong it is. O’Neill is a sensational writer and she is ruthless in her depiction of dystopian world that in actuality is our current one. Her pacing, her characters are so amazing you will not want to put it down and when you finish, trust me, you will have a hard time forgetting about Only Ever Yours.
This is not a happy book. It is a harsh and it is chilling. It is incredible and devastating and it should be read by everyone.