Set in a future where girls are taught how to serve and please men, Only Ever Yours is a sharply written portrayal of teenage girls and the role of women in society.
freida and isabel (their names aren’t capitalised in the book) are best friends. They are also eves. They have been created for men and face a life spent living as a companion, a concubine or a chastity.
In their 16th and final year at boarding school things begin to change. The choosing ceremony is approaching and every girl is vying for a place as a companion.
isabel begins to put on weight, something which doesn’t fit the ‘ideal’ that the eves must live up too. Her chance of being chosen as a companion may be at stake. freida can’t understand what is happening to her friend, but she is also secretly pleased that she outranks isabel for once. The other students turn on isabel and delight in using her weight gain against her.
Reminiscent, in parts, of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Mean Girls; O’Neill brilliantly captures the voices of insecure teenagers who regardless of what is going on around them are trying to find their way in the world. But this is a world that doesn’t allow people to deviate from the plan.
Upon finishing this book I needed to sit quietly, for a while, and process it. There are no happy endings here, but the ending was a necessary one.
Only Ever Yours is worth a read no matter what your age, but if you know any teenagers you should give them a copy immediately.