Being Lolita: A Memoir

Alisson Wood. Flatiron, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-21721-9
Wood debuts with a unflinching account of her high school affair with a teacher. After introducing her to Nabokov’s masterwork of lechery (“he told me it was a beautiful story about love”), “Mr. North” (whose name has been changed) reveals himself as a manipulative predator. Twenty-six when he meets 17-year-old Wood, North grooms the already fragile and troubled teen, moving from inquiries about her writing into inappropriate forays (such as passing notes guessing her bra size and revealing that of his penis). In an effort to create “plausible deniability” as their relationship becomes physical, North pushes Wood to date schoolmates while still stringing her along with promises of undying love and marriage after she graduates. “It seems as if no matter how active or passive a girl is, she is still doomed,” she muses. Wood later re-examines Lolita (and the power dynamics with North) in a college class, then while working with at-risk teenagers, and again after she suffers a sexual assault. “I began to question my memory, my very self,” she writes, and, now, upon viewing photographs of herself as a teenager when she’d felt “the most sexy and seductive,” she sees a lost child. Wood’s potent memoir doubles as a cautionary tale that indicts literary and social tropes of irresistible, sexualized youths­. It’s an impressive, provocative outing. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 08/05/2020
Release date: 06/09/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-21723-3
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