Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

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Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O’Neill
Publisher: Quercus
Publication Date: July 3, 2014
Pages: 404
Literary Awards: YA Book Prize (2015), Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year (2014)
Source: Library, ebook

This dystopian tale centres around two best friends, freida and isabel, both 16 years old, as they get ready for their final year of school before they are selected at The Ceremony. They live in a world where girls, known as “eves,” are ranked by their physical beauty and trained to please wealthy young men. The most attractive quality is to be thin and obedient. Anything less is a disgrace to everyone around them. At graduation, the most desirable girls are chosen to become “companions” – the girls whose purpose is to raise sons until they are deemed redundant (at the age of 40). Then there are the least desirable roles for women: “concubines” or “chastities.” Since freida and isabel were young, they were top-ranked and beautiful until isabel suddenly starts distancing herself from everyone and gaining weight. Where every decision and every inch of your body is questioned, freida must choose between preserving her childhood friendship or her future.

What really stood out to me (and maybe this was the copyediting course for school taking effect) was only the female names were lowercased. It made me angry until I thought about the implications – especially about living in a misogynistic society. In school, the chastities controls the eves’ minds, bodies, and behaviours. They are given a daily dose kcal blockers to prevent weight gain and SleepSound to assist with beauty rest. The only media they are given access to is reality TV or the nature channel and MyFace to update their status and profile picture. Behind the scenes, the leader named The Father rules over everything else. Only Ever Yours calls into question the perception of beauty and the medium which it’s relayed. It’s a very disturbing read, but worth your time.

 

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