Being Lolita|Review

Being Lolita – Published 2020

“Have you ever read Lolita?”

So begins seventeen-year-old Alisson’s metamorphosis from student to lover and then victim. A lonely and vulnerable high school senior, Alisson finds solace only in her writing—and in a young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. North. He praises her as a special and gifted writer, and she blossoms under his support and his vision for her future.

Mr. North gives Alisson a copy of Lolita to read, telling her it is a beautiful story about love. The book soon becomes the backdrop to a relationship that blooms from a simple crush into a forbidden romance, with Mr. North convincing her that theirs is a love affair rivaled only by Nabokov’s masterpiece. But as time progresses and his hold on her tightens, Alisson is forced to evaluate how much of that narrative is actually a disturbing fiction. 

In the wake of what becomes a deeply abusive relationship, Alisson is faced again and again with the story of her past, from rereading Lolita in college, to working with teenage girls, to becoming a professor of creative writing. It is only with that distance and perspective that she understands the ultimate power language has had on her—and how to harness that power to tell her own true story. 

BEING LOLITA is a stunning coming-of-age memoir of obsession, passion, and manipulation, shining a bright light on our shifting perceptions of consent, vulnerability, and power. This is the story of what happens when a young woman realizes her entire narrative must be rewritten—and then takes back the pen to rewrite it.” – Goodreads


It is so interesting to me that this book and Being Vanessa, a fictional book that also uses Lolita as its backdrop, released so close to one another. Does anyone know if that’s just coincidence?

I think I “enjoyed” this book more than MDV because I knew it was a memoir, that this had happened to a person with the bravery to write about it. The topic is not “enjoyable”, but it’s very well written, honest, and intense.

It’s hard to read books about the awful things people have gone through, especially at the hands of those who are meant to protect, lead, and educate. That trust is used to take advantage, to groom, and to manipulate. It’s hard to stomach.

I can only hope that writing this book was a cathartic experience for Alisson Wood. This book is raw, powerful, and disturbing, but it’s also a story of a survivor, it is powerful, and it is beautifully written.

TW: sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, pedophilia, mention of self harm, depression

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