"Bitches bite back. And men hate that. Society hates that."
Izzy O’Neill is an aspiring comic, an impoverished orphan, and a Slut Extraordinaire. Or at least, that’s what the malicious website flying round the school says. Izzy can try all she wants to laugh it off – after all, her sex life, her terms – but when pictures emerge of her doing the dirty with a politician’s son, her life suddenly becomes the centre of a national scandal. Izzy’s never been ashamed of herself before, and she’s not going to start now. But keeping her head up will take everything she has...
Izzy was a character I very easily related to even though we had very little in common. Laura Steven managed to make me feel as connected to these characters as I would be to someone I had known for years and I am honestly blown away! I've never been in the same situation as Izzy (and I definitely couldn't handle it with her style) but I have been slut-shamed. I think it's something most women will experience at some stage or another and it sucks. So there were times when reading this made me feel SO mad I couldn't breathe. And times when I wanted to reach into the story and hug the characters.
Firstly it should be noted that Izzy is flawed as heck. She screwed up a lot. There was one thing she did where I was basically screaming at the page for her to get some sense before she ruined the best thing in her life. But she learned and she grew. And no, she is not magically a perfect girl by the end of the book (thank god). But she is extremely realistic. This is best shown in her relationship with best friend Ajita (who I am a little bit in love with btw). It was by far the strongest relationship in the book and it was such a joy to read female characters who didn't at all want to tear each other down.
I actually kinda loved the romance. I didn't go in expecting or wanting one. But it was lowkey enough that it didn't distract from the main plot at all and I absolutely adored the love interest himself. If he had gotten even the tiniest bit judgy I would have hated him but he wasn't. He had his own issues going on and didn't care about Izzy's sexploits - just her. It also avoided insta-love by straight up avoiding love entirely. This is the very very tentative start to what could be a relationship.
"Slut-shaming is not really about women’s sexuality. It is grounded in the belief that men have the right to assert themselves, and women do not."
This is my early favourite of the year and is definitely in my Top 5 of all time and if that doesn't convince you to pick this up? The Exact Opposite of Okay is diverse, feminist, humorous and really well written. It is the most of this moment book I have read. It's my zeitgeist novel.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
Empowerment Factor: 5/5
The cover: 5/5