Only ever yours – Louise O´Neill
A woman can have three roles; a wife, a whore or a teacher. If you are one of the lucky ones who gets chosen to be a wife your purpose is clear, support your husband, raise healthy sons, follow husbands lead at all times and always be willing.
We enter the story at the beginning of their final year at school by the end of which they will be chosen for one of the roles. The girls themselves have no say in the matter, it is all decided by their male peers.
It´s like the author has taken every fear over womens rights I have, each of my worries for how the future will be for girls and doubled them. Tweaked them into a misogynistic world where women have no value, where they own nothing, not even their bodies. Where the school they go to is a mean girls x 1000. Everybody wants to be number 1, everyone wants to be the prettiest because that´s the only thing that matters.
It´s a really fucking scary book and it exhausted me. I wanted to climb into the book and shake the girls into some kind of common sense, wring the necks of the men who made the rules.
But is it a good book? I would say yes. It has it´s flaws, none of the characters are fleshed out, there is no detail to them. I was waiting for the main character or her friend to have some kind of insight or epiphany but it never happened. And I suppose that both of these flaws are written with meaning. There is no insight because the girls have been taught not to think, they aren´t even taught how to read! The characters have no detail to them because the girls have nothing to be detailed, they are literally blank only ever there for the men.
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. . .