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Being Lolita: A Memoir

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NYU MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow Alisson Wood's BEING LOLITA, a memoir of the author's two-year relationship with her high school English teacher who seduced her by teaching her Lolita, a story he had her believe was the greatest love story of our time, which she only later learned was anything but, and how revisiting Nabokov's masterpiece allowed her to grapple with NYU MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow Alisson Wood's BEING LOLITA, a memoir of the author's two-year relationship with her high school English teacher who seduced her by teaching her Lolita, a story he had her believe was the greatest love story of our time, which she only later learned was anything but, and how revisiting Nabokov's masterpiece allowed her to grapple with what it means to have been an unreliable narrator of her own life, exploring our shifting views of consent, male dominance, and self-perception, to Sarah Murphy at Flatiron Books.


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NYU MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow Alisson Wood's BEING LOLITA, a memoir of the author's two-year relationship with her high school English teacher who seduced her by teaching her Lolita, a story he had her believe was the greatest love story of our time, which she only later learned was anything but, and how revisiting Nabokov's masterpiece allowed her to grapple with NYU MFA candidate and Goldwater Fellow Alisson Wood's BEING LOLITA, a memoir of the author's two-year relationship with her high school English teacher who seduced her by teaching her Lolita, a story he had her believe was the greatest love story of our time, which she only later learned was anything but, and how revisiting Nabokov's masterpiece allowed her to grapple with what it means to have been an unreliable narrator of her own life, exploring our shifting views of consent, male dominance, and self-perception, to Sarah Murphy at Flatiron Books.

30 review for Being Lolita: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)

    3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars I was intrigued when I first saw this because I had admired the book My Dark Vanessa about the same topic in recent months. There were so many similarities it was uncanny, but this is an actual memoir. Ironically enough, I enjoyed the fictionalized My Dark Vanessa a tad more. Alisson Woods is a teenager who has suffered with depression, manifesting in cutting and a suicide attempt. After successful psychological treatment she returns to high school, only to get lured in 3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars I was intrigued when I first saw this because I had admired the book My Dark Vanessa about the same topic in recent months. There were so many similarities it was uncanny, but this is an actual memoir. Ironically enough, I enjoyed the fictionalized My Dark Vanessa a tad more. Alisson Woods is a teenager who has suffered with depression, manifesting in cutting and a suicide attempt. After successful psychological treatment she returns to high school, only to get lured into a romantic relationship with her English teacher, Mr. North. He is obsessed with the famous book Lolita, reading it to her on surreptitious night outings to a diner, and gifting her with his notated copy. They write notes to each other which must be destroyed in water or ripped into tiny pieces. He writes a number on the chalkboard and quickly erases it during class- a crafty mode of communication for the time Allie should meet up with him at the diner. As mutually agreed, nothing physical occurs until Allie graduates, but the idealized version of their illicit union falls far short of her dreams. In fact, some of it reads like a nightmare. I found the character of Nick, aka Mr. North disturbing, and their relationship is obviously damaging on several levels. Once Allie goes to college she's exposed to people more her age, but spends far too much time in her dorm room waiting for her phone to ring. It's a refreshing and hopeful development when Allie tries dating a couple of fellow students at college and hanging out with girlfriends. Still, the spector of Mr. North has left an indelible mark. It takes time for Allie to come to terms with the reality of their relationship, whether it was truly love or an act of abuse. At college, under the tutelage of a gifted female teacher, Allie has an epiphany about her sordid secret. When her writing class analyzes and discusses the Lolita book, it is a revelation to her. She later uses the book as an annual final course read when she becomes a creative writing teacher. Her senses are also heightened for the well-being and safety of her students, looking back on how she was victimized. When she was 17 she thought she was so strong and sexy, but now realizes how vulnerable she really was. This was a good read, but it harped just a little too much on the book Lolita. I've never read it, so these passages did not speak to me, and became a bit monotonous. So, I've read two eerily similar books in a short amount of time, and apparently there is a sickening formula to this kind of inappropriate seduction of a minor student. Thank you to the publisher Flatiron Books who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    More TK closer to publication on Wood's excellent memoir - she has a knack here for unraveling difficult truths w poetic, literary writing. The story of a high school senior being seduced by her teacher is often harrowing, a page-turner, which makes the story's uncanny parallels w/ Nabokov's work all the more absorbable. More TK closer to publication on Wood's excellent memoir - she has a knack here for unraveling difficult truths w poetic, literary writing. The story of a high school senior being seduced by her teacher is often harrowing, a page-turner, which makes the story's uncanny parallels w/ Nabokov's work all the more absorbable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Catherine (alternativelytitledbooks)

    *Many thanks to Flatiron Books, NetGalley, and Alisson Wood for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 8.4!* Raw, engrossing, and unputdownable! Being Lolita is a journey through Alisson Wood's experiences as a teenager and young woman, from her descent as the idealized 'nymphet' created by the grooming of her teacher Mr. North's 'Humbert Humbert' to the poised, strong, and unabashedly honest woman she is today. This memoir is completely consuming---I finished it in a matter of hours! Wood manage *Many thanks to Flatiron Books, NetGalley, and Alisson Wood for an ARC of this book! Now available as of 8.4!* Raw, engrossing, and unputdownable! Being Lolita is a journey through Alisson Wood's experiences as a teenager and young woman, from her descent as the idealized 'nymphet' created by the grooming of her teacher Mr. North's 'Humbert Humbert' to the poised, strong, and unabashedly honest woman she is today. This memoir is completely consuming---I finished it in a matter of hours! Wood manages to handle such delicate topics and complicated emotions with effortless ability. Not once does she idealize her abuser, even in her reflections of her past, but she still manages to give the reader a sense of how easily a situation can spiral and how quickly innocence can be stolen with the right words and actions. This book also incorporates a fascinating study of the source material Lolita itself, with plenty of exploration of context, origin, and allusions used in Nabokov's work which is interesting in its own right. This is one of the most unique and fast-paced memoirs I've ever read, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the concept of Lolita, as long as the sensitive topics discussed in the book are not triggering for you. An essentially important conversation to be had, and kudos to Alisson Wood for taking this step and sharing her story! 4.5 ⭐️

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    I’m not much one for trigger warnings, but if you need one for this book, it’s right there in the title. The author writes a heartbreaking, beautiful and reflective story about being preyed on by her high school English teacher, and believing it was love. Her story is not uncommon and most women will be able to see some small bit of their own experience in it. Though she later learns her experience itself was sadly not “special,” she has made it into an incredibly special book. The book describes I’m not much one for trigger warnings, but if you need one for this book, it’s right there in the title. The author writes a heartbreaking, beautiful and reflective story about being preyed on by her high school English teacher, and believing it was love. Her story is not uncommon and most women will be able to see some small bit of their own experience in it. Though she later learns her experience itself was sadly not “special,” she has made it into an incredibly special book. The book describes 17-year-old Alisson’s seduction by her 26-year-old teacher within the framework of Nabakov’s “Lolita.” As we all know, and as this book explores, the very word “Lolita” has become synonymous with a child seductress who holds all the cards, rendering men powerless by her (young, illegal) sexuality. This is how her predator painted her throughout. It was only later in life when she realized her experience of the story was her own and did not follow his unreliable narration. Here, in the course of reflecting on what happened to her, Wood also does a great textual analysis of the original Lolita as written by Nabakov. After reading this book I felt like I had experienced moments of enlightenment both about my own childhood, and about the book Lolita. I have to really hand it to Wood for laying her most painful moments so bare in this memoir. It’s the kind of book that is going to help other people. But it brings its deeper message and analysis through what is also a beautiful and completely addictive, page-turning reading experience. At times crushingly hard to read and at other times beautiful (not unlike the original text), this is an exceptional memoir. The ending, and particularly the part about butterflies (you’ll know it when you get there), was perfect. Thanks to NetGalley, Flatiron Books and Alisson Wood for the advance copy of this excellent memoir. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ 3.5 Stars At what point does a man transform into a wolf? At what point does a girl turn into prey? Nonfiction November???? Really, though, as soon as I saw that title and cover I was all over snagging this from the library because . . . . It’s a bit of an obsession. It probably goes without saying that this was an uncomfortable read. We meet Allison as a 17-year old senior who has a reputation in her high school for being craz Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ 3.5 Stars At what point does a man transform into a wolf? At what point does a girl turn into prey? Nonfiction November???? Really, though, as soon as I saw that title and cover I was all over snagging this from the library because . . . . It’s a bit of an obsession. It probably goes without saying that this was an uncomfortable read. We meet Allison as a 17-year old senior who has a reputation in her high school for being crazy and a bit of a slut. In reality she had only had sex a handful of times, but most certainly was not quite mentally stable which marked her as an easy victim for the charming English teacher, Mr. North. What follows is the story of her being groomed by an unapologetic ephebophile until she finally is able to break from his clutches. Obviously not for everyone, but an in-your-face look at misuse of power and how easy it is for someone young and inexperienced to fall into a “relationship” which revolves around a cycle of abuse that may help someone else from becoming a statistic (with or without the teacher/role model/older man being part of the scenario).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tonya

    Whoa! I am not a big fan of Memoirs, but this one is so well written it felt like I was talking to a friend over a cup of soothing hot chocolate. Reads more like fiction to me, and I love the way that Alisson expresses her voice at least internally. The seduction of Alisson, much like the seduction of Lolita, was not beautiful or poetic and Being Lolita: A Memoir definitely shows that. The hardest parts (and there were so many of them) were Alisson's denial about her relationship with The Teacher Whoa! I am not a big fan of Memoirs, but this one is so well written it felt like I was talking to a friend over a cup of soothing hot chocolate. Reads more like fiction to me, and I love the way that Alisson expresses her voice at least internally. The seduction of Alisson, much like the seduction of Lolita, was not beautiful or poetic and Being Lolita: A Memoir definitely shows that. The hardest parts (and there were so many of them) were Alisson's denial about her relationship with The Teacher and what the relationship was really about. I find myself cheering her on at times, and cringing at times and when I get that involved in a book, then you know it hits hard. The best parts were her moments of self realization, the deep literary analysis that she does on Nabakov's Lolita (one of the best I have ever read), and how Wood uses what happened in her past to show truth in literature in her writing classes that she teaches. I want to say a special thank you to Alisson Wood for writing this memoir, for using her voice to show the reader what love is not, for using her courage to help others in their own journeys. Library ebook

  7. 4 out of 5

    leah

    4.5 ‘being lolita’ is an incredibly raw, vulnerable, and engrossing memoir about alisson wood’s relationship with her high school english teacher, mr north. at age 17, alisson first turns to mr north for help with her writing, but things turn darker when he gives her a copy of nabokov’s ‘lolita’ to read, claiming it’s a beautiful love story to rival their own. ‘lolita’ ultimately sets the backdrop for the rest of their time together, creating a relationship which turns from a simple crush into a 4.5 ‘being lolita’ is an incredibly raw, vulnerable, and engrossing memoir about alisson wood’s relationship with her high school english teacher, mr north. at age 17, alisson first turns to mr north for help with her writing, but things turn darker when he gives her a copy of nabokov’s ‘lolita’ to read, claiming it’s a beautiful love story to rival their own. ‘lolita’ ultimately sets the backdrop for the rest of their time together, creating a relationship which turns from a simple crush into a site of manipulation, obsession, and control. this book offers the reader a glimpse into the relationship between alisson and mr north as it progresses in high school and then further once she graduates. she recalls how the relationship was abusive from the start, and only got more so as time went on. but despite this, alisson is still stuck as mr north’s version of ‘lolita’ and believes their relationship is a love story, and it’s not until a female professor in college explains the book in a different way that alisson finally comes to terms with the reality of their relationship: that it was abuse and grooming, not love. a part i particularly liked about this memoir was that alisson uses a lot of literary references while examining her relationship with the teacher, referencing stories like ‘alice in wonderland’ and other fairytale tropes, like the old-age tale of princesses needing to be saved by a prince. if you’ve read/heard of ‘my dark vanessa’, you’ll know that the premise is very similar, although ‘being lolita’ is a memoir while (as far as i know) ‘my dark vanessa’ is purely fictional. but with their similar premises, both of these books shine a light on how ‘lolita’ has been grossly misinterpreted as a love story by some (and often in culture too) and used as an justification for predatory behaviour, instead of being used as a cautionary tale about abuse and pedophillia as nabokov intended. but if you’ve read and enjoyed ‘my dark vanessa’ (as much as you can ‘enjoy’ it i guess??) then i’d recommend you give ‘being lolita’ a read too! check out my instagram for more reviews: @lbhreads

  8. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    This is a memoir of a young woman who lived out a similar story to the one in Nabokov's divisive classic, Lolita. The author was a depressed and lonely teenager when an English teacher at her high school began paying her special attention. They began to develop an extremely inappropriate relationship that continued (and became even more toxic) after she graduated. There have been several books with this kind of story that have been released over the past few years, and I think it's really import This is a memoir of a young woman who lived out a similar story to the one in Nabokov's divisive classic, Lolita. The author was a depressed and lonely teenager when an English teacher at her high school began paying her special attention. They began to develop an extremely inappropriate relationship that continued (and became even more toxic) after she graduated. There have been several books with this kind of story that have been released over the past few years, and I think it's really important not only that victims have a space to tell their stories, but also to educate others on what abusive relationships, including this case of an extreme exploitation of a power dynamic, look like. I ended up having mixed feelings about this book. I love and support the message, but the execution was flawed. Her narrative from her teenage years is sometimes, but without any purposeful rhythm, interrupted by her adult thoughts. Sometimes this involves breaking the fourth wall and outright addressing the reader for no good reason. It breaks the ability for the reader - who is likely very aware that the relationship isn't healthy - to feel there with the author in her teenage years, all wrapped up in the lines this teacher was feeding her. The book also mixes literary allusions to the point of becoming muddled. There's Lolita, of course, but also Alice in Wonderland, The Great Gatsby, Poe...oh, and references to Disney. There wasn't a central thread connecting all of these, so their inclusion ended up becoming confusing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I’m not much one for trigger warnings, but if you need one for this book, it’s right there in the title. The author writes a heartbreaking, beautiful and reflective story about being preyed on by her high school English teacher, and believing it was love. Her story is not uncommon and most women will be able to see some small bit of their own experience in it. Though she later learns her experience itself was sadly not “special,” she has made it into an incredibly special book. The book describes I’m not much one for trigger warnings, but if you need one for this book, it’s right there in the title. The author writes a heartbreaking, beautiful and reflective story about being preyed on by her high school English teacher, and believing it was love. Her story is not uncommon and most women will be able to see some small bit of their own experience in it. Though she later learns her experience itself was sadly not “special,” she has made it into an incredibly special book. The book describes 17-year-old Alisson’s seduction by her 26-year-old teacher within the framework of Nabakov’s “Lolita.” As we all know, and as this book explores, the very word “Lolita” has become synonymous with a child seductress who holds all the cards, rendering men powerless by her (young, illegal) sexuality. This is how her predator painted her throughout. It was only later in life when she realized her experience of the story was her own and did not follow his unreliable narration. Here, in the course of reflecting on what happened to her, Wood also does a great textual analysis of the original Lolita as written by Nabakov. After reading this book I felt like I had experienced moments of enlightenment both about my own childhood, and about the book Lolita. I have to really hand it to Wood for laying her most painful moments so bare in this memoir. It’s the kind of book that is going to help other people. But it brings its deeper message and analysis through what is also a beautiful and completely addictive, page-turning reading experience. At times crushingly hard to read and at other times beautiful (not unlike the original text), this is an exceptional memoir. The ending, and particularly the part about butterflies (you’ll know it when you get there), was perfect. Thanks to NetGalley, Flatiron Books and Alisson Wood for the advance copy of this excellent memoir. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was written by a friend, and former classmate. I am so proud of her to finally be able to tell her story. This book is well written, but difficult and sickening to read. It was bittersweet to be brought back to my senior year, and difficult to hear proof of what I knew was happening all along. I was in that play with Alison, and I knew what was happening between her and "Mr. North." The energy was undeniable and the level of discomfort was palpable. In short, "Mr.North" was always a cre This book was written by a friend, and former classmate. I am so proud of her to finally be able to tell her story. This book is well written, but difficult and sickening to read. It was bittersweet to be brought back to my senior year, and difficult to hear proof of what I knew was happening all along. I was in that play with Alison, and I knew what was happening between her and "Mr. North." The energy was undeniable and the level of discomfort was palpable. In short, "Mr.North" was always a creep around girls. I expressed concern about him and the relationship, but was essentially told, "I'm sure it's nothing." This book is a product of this "nothing." This "nothing," affected Alison's life while the teacher, Mr. Nick North (Michael Morello in real life), lives a burden free life. This "nothing" was allowed to happen within the halls of my high school. This "nothing" had multiple victims. These atrocities were allowed to continue by the staff at Bunnell High School, where these events actually took place. I am angered and disgusted for Alison, but I hope this book gives her some kind of fucked up closure. She is brave and as badass as they come.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Being Lolita is an incredibly fast read, being a straight narration of an abusive relationship between a teenaged Alisson and a teacher from her high school. There was not much in the memoir to commend it, either in writing style or depth of reflection. It was more an experience of watching an uncomfortable train wreck. I feel bad saying this, because I recognize how much the author suffered as a result of her experiences. Still, they translate onto the page rather awkwardly, and have the feel o Being Lolita is an incredibly fast read, being a straight narration of an abusive relationship between a teenaged Alisson and a teacher from her high school. There was not much in the memoir to commend it, either in writing style or depth of reflection. It was more an experience of watching an uncomfortable train wreck. I feel bad saying this, because I recognize how much the author suffered as a result of her experiences. Still, they translate onto the page rather awkwardly, and have the feel of a journal she is keeping years later as she processes her trauma. There are a few aha! moments where she recognizes the horror for what it is, largely in retrospect, and I would have appreciated a stronger dissection here (her title for the third and final part). I probably would have stopped reading partway were it not for some parallels between Alisson's experience and my own past (thankfully not as extreme). Maybe that influenced my disappointment, because I had certain expectations, or the cringe factor as I recognized myself in places I didn't want to. I'm not sorry I read it, but I can't really recommend it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julia Deptuła

    I LOVE the way that Alisson Wood writes. It feels so intimate. Her style is really unique. It shows a relationship between a high school teacher and his student. Nick is extremely manipulative and twisted. As an educated man (ENGLISH TEACHER !!!) the way he romanticizes Lolita is sick. He literally, willingly identifies with Humbert Humbert.......... There is this scene, where he is so pissed off at Alisson, because when they have sex for the first time she bleeds, even though she said she isn't I LOVE the way that Alisson Wood writes. It feels so intimate. Her style is really unique. It shows a relationship between a high school teacher and his student. Nick is extremely manipulative and twisted. As an educated man (ENGLISH TEACHER !!!) the way he romanticizes Lolita is sick. He literally, willingly identifies with Humbert Humbert.......... There is this scene, where he is so pissed off at Alisson, because when they have sex for the first time she bleeds, even though she said she isn't a virgin. Guess why he is upset... BECAUSE IN LOLITA HUMBERT CALLS CHARLIE THE RAPIST (HE DEFLOWERED LOLITA) AND HE HIMSELF IS THE THERAPIST, same here. If Nick were to deflower Alisson, he would become the sick man and not the savior. After reading Lolita, My Dark Vanessa and now this I can see how both Vanessa and Alisson are similar. If You ever had any doubts about that - these men are predators, watching for their prey. The girls must be lonely, a little bit dark and self-conscious, this way they are the easiest to manipulate. This story is heart breaking and a must read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    capture stories

    Someone once told me, “Every Love Story is Beautiful”? Is that so? What about tortured love? First, “Being Lolita’’ is a memoir of the author's life story from a young to adolescence. Her memoir was laid in the backdrop of a famous and controversial book of the times “Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.” Some view Lolita as a forbidden love story between an adult and a child, while others view disgust and argue that this NOT love! It’s abuse and crime! No doubt, I, too, see the story as an inexcusable cr Someone once told me, “Every Love Story is Beautiful”? Is that so? What about tortured love? First, “Being Lolita’’ is a memoir of the author's life story from a young to adolescence. Her memoir was laid in the backdrop of a famous and controversial book of the times “Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.” Some view Lolita as a forbidden love story between an adult and a child, while others view disgust and argue that this NOT love! It’s abuse and crime! No doubt, I, too, see the story as an inexcusable crime, repulsive and darkly human. Within the chapters, lies are a heavy message about a young girl; destitute, despair, and downtrodden seeking solace for acceptance, approval, and affection. Alisson, her name became “Lolita” when she met “him-the teacher.” The teacher, also known as Mr. North, crossed paths with her in her high school years. In her eyes, he was like a shining armor treading upon Alisson’s path of darkness. He encouraged, befriended, and showed her what she could be for the future. The interactions between them were private, making Alisson feel flattered and specials. Alisson let her guard down. He groomed her…. And she walked on the path he so secretly laid…. Isn’t it romantic? Mr. North continues to influence the young Alisson, their secret love, and becoming forbidden love, resembling the book Lolita's grim love affair. Their secret relationship grew darker each time when months passed, and years went by. Despite the hideous, Alisson excelled in school. Her writing talent with the teacher's help came off with flying colors landing her graduation from high school, college, and in the future. However, their relationship changed from nurture, romance to cult-like, torture love. Intense arguments and fights between them got ugly from time to time. The control from Mr. North gripping harder on Alisson, suffocating her. The storyline may feel mundane as it reaches the middle part. In between pages, sexual intimacy was rawly described. Then, he comes alive again when Mr. North reached the end and loses self-control. He lashed out at her when she questioned and wronged him for his beliefs. It was then, Alisson realized, an instinctual feeling that something’s not right…... She needs to get out of this! The prose of literature was artfully composed in between text. It’s a beautiful balance of complexity and simplicity. A true journey, an honest account, by the author’s reflection of her younger life, how she survived and thrived from tortured love she mistakenly took as genuine love…... Ms. Wood’s story deserves acknowledgment and should be a vindication for many abused, hurt, and deceived women. What do you think? Is tortured love still love? What I know for sure, someone out there needs to hear this story………..I want to share it. My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✶ / 5 (4.5 out of 5) *Thank you, Flatiron through NetGalley, for the ARC Being Lolita (Audiobook) Having not flipped a single page today made me feel as guilty as can be. Once again, life priorities and more important responsibilities took over. Ok...I couldn’t find time to sit and read (period) I turned to audiobooks for help. To my surprise, audiobooks are an excellent alternative to “read” books while working, walking, and just keeping up with learning and whatever a scrap of time is available between tasks. Even sneak reading during a work break. My Pick for today’s book listen is none other than “BEING LOLITA,” a new debut novel that made its publication just yesterday by Alisson Wood. The story was about a sensational, repelling memoir retracing to an infinitely painful memory, and dark reminiscence of the author’s younger past and written in full view. It talks about a tortured love mistaken for true love by a vulnerable young girl with beautiful prose of balance between complexity and simplicity. Hearing the actual Alisson reading the character Alisson in the novel brought the story to life! Her voice is very fitting for the role since it’s her story. The narration was clear and was easy to follow. Her reading pace was natural. Her voice was sweet and pleasant to hear, just as expected for the young Alisson in the book. Since I have read the novel in written form and now, hearing it makes the contents’ emotions connect to my intent even better. Yes, I would recommend it to anyone who loves audiobooks!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Holehan

    Full Disclosure: I know Alisson Wood. She is a friend and I had the pleasure of directing her in several plays and readings a few years back. She was a talented young woman who has obviously blossomed into a promising author. I did not know her "secret" back then about her relationship with a high school English teacher and, according to her moving and haunting memoir, few people did. This is a thoughtful memory, poetic at times, grueling at others, not always easy to read but unflinching in its Full Disclosure: I know Alisson Wood. She is a friend and I had the pleasure of directing her in several plays and readings a few years back. She was a talented young woman who has obviously blossomed into a promising author. I did not know her "secret" back then about her relationship with a high school English teacher and, according to her moving and haunting memoir, few people did. This is a thoughtful memory, poetic at times, grueling at others, not always easy to read but unflinching in its honesty. I was reminded of Kate Russell's recent novel, "My Dark Vanessa" which also explored the relationship between a young girl and her magnetic teacher, an instructor who also utilized Nabokov's "Lolita" in his seduction of his student. In some ways I found Alisson's memoir more direct, though, more honest than Russell's more obviously political polemic. In all, "Being Lolita" should be required reading in high schools. Congratulations, Alisson!

  15. 4 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    I feel funny saying I "enjoyed"this memoir since it focused on such a disturbing topic, but I did. It was very well written. I feel funny saying I "enjoyed"this memoir since it focused on such a disturbing topic, but I did. It was very well written.

  16. 5 out of 5

    T Madden

    Shattering, brutal, yet hopeful. This one hurt a lot. The writing, though, is so good you won't be able to put this down, with razor sharp lines and short, punch-in-the-gut chapters. It's propulsive, inspiring, haunting - phew. I wish books like these didn't exist and I'm simultaneously so goddamn grateful they do. Let's hold up these survivor stories for the act of heroism they are. Shattering, brutal, yet hopeful. This one hurt a lot. The writing, though, is so good you won't be able to put this down, with razor sharp lines and short, punch-in-the-gut chapters. It's propulsive, inspiring, haunting - phew. I wish books like these didn't exist and I'm simultaneously so goddamn grateful they do. Let's hold up these survivor stories for the act of heroism they are.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Muriel (The Purple Book Wyrm)

    More accurate rating: 3/10. And here is my full-length video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U2sU.... Preliminary review: Alrighty, let's do this. As with my video review, I'll start with a pretty important disclaimer: I do NOT dispute the fact that the author, Ms. Wood, went through the experience of an abusive sexual relationship with a man who was her teacher in her senior year of high school; that she is a victim and survivor of rape, emotional abuse and grooming*. I'm sorry this happe More accurate rating: 3/10. And here is my full-length video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U2sU.... Preliminary review: Alrighty, let's do this. As with my video review, I'll start with a pretty important disclaimer: I do NOT dispute the fact that the author, Ms. Wood, went through the experience of an abusive sexual relationship with a man who was her teacher in her senior year of high school; that she is a victim and survivor of rape, emotional abuse and grooming*. I'm sorry this happened to her and wish her the best of luck on her road to healing. * But, the grooming she experienced was not, as I choose to call it, of the pedo-hebephilic/underage/just out of childhood kind. Which is the type of grooming and sexual abuse I myself experienced, which Vanessa Wye experiences in My Dark Vanessa, which Daphne Greenslay experiences in Putney, and which Ms. Springora, who wrote her own memoir about the subject, experienced in real life at the hands of author Gabriel Matzneff, and which is misleadingly implied by the title of Ms. Wood's memoir. And which isn't, ironically enough, what the character Dolores Haze goes through in Lolita, as there is no grooming in the novel by Vladimir Nabokov: "only" kidnapping and child rape. But alas, society has chosen to retain the words "Lolita" and "nymphet" to describe situations in which an underage victim falls in love with her (much) older predator, and thus I also choose to qualify all the narratives I mentioned above (whether real or fictional) as Lolita-responsive narratives. And once again, the memoir Being Lolita isn't one of them. This paragraph, present in the text itself, basically sums up my issues with this memoir: "Sometimes I worry if the whole Lolita intertextuality is just a conceit, a clever way to elevate what happened to me, to raise it above the tawdry. I still wonder if I have just exaggerated things, if I am the unreliable narrator in this story, if I truly did seduce him, if this Lolita concept is just crafted to give this relationship meaning." Why yes, that is exactly what the author did. This paragraph stood as a strange moment of radical self-awareness and transparency, because the author, I maintain, did not in fact experience what Dolores Haze does in the novel Lolita. The only reason Lolita is relevant to her lived experience is because her abuser had/has a creepy, fetishistic obsession with the novel, and called the author a Lolita (even though, at 18 years of age, she clearly wasn't by Humbert Humbert's own definitional standards). So it felt to me as if the author was appropriating an experience, or a type of experience, she simply did not have... And I found this slightly offensive if I'm being perfectly honest. Now, let me be clear: I am not ascribing nefarious motivations to the author. I do not know why she chose to present her story in this distorted fashion. It left me feeling incredibly raw and puzzled, as her story of abuse, of what I'll call "adult/young adult grooming", is perfectly legitimate as it is. There were so many elements in the memoir intimating the author was a child, a literal nymphet, in a relationship with a literal Humbert Humbert, that felt forced, and fake, and which rubbed my skin like sand-paper. But the simple fact is she was not, as a legal adult of 18 in a relationship with a young man of 26/27, in the same kind of situation I was, as a child of 13 in a relationship with a man who was 49. I'd never had sex in my life, the author'd already had three non-abusive boyfriends (not that prior sexual experience means you can't be raped/groomed by an abuser later on, we're all agreed here). I was just starting to exit puberty; at 18 the author was well out of it. A waitress in a diner comments at one point on how much of a lovely couple the author and her abuser make; this never would've happened to me, or to any of the other victims, real or fictional, I mentioned above. Ms. Wood's abuser honestly put me more in mind of Christian Grey (whom I will call an abuser, I don't effing care that 50 Shades is supposed to be erotica and non-rapey) than Humbert Humbert, Jacob Strane, Ralph Boyd, Gabriel Matzneff or my own abuser. I just don't get it. I do not get why the author chose to do this, to present her narrative this way. Then, of course, I took issue with her overly simplistic analysis of Lolita, the novel, and the borderline nefarious authorial intent she decided to ascribe to the author Vladimir Nabokov, based on the fact he collected butterflies as part of his passion for them/study of them. That was just a massively WTF moment, not to mention intellectually immature (I guess Thomas Harris, the man who wrote the Hannibal Lecter series, keeps a fridge full of brain at home then, hmm?). Now, fair enough, I can understand the author has a biased appreciation of the novel precisely because her abuser was obsessed with it. But what bothers me is that, given the momentum sexual abuse survival stories/testimonies have recently gained (and that's a good thing!), people might not be as inclined to check out the source material often cited in said narratives, and make up their own minds about it. Just take a random memoir author's word for it, as it were. At least, that's my hot take based on some of the reviews I've seen here on this very site, where the ignorance displayed about the novel Lolita is quite honestly upsetting. Anyway, that's enough of that. This memoir was a massive disappointment, it's title a great example of "false advertising", its contents mildly distressing/offensive, given their misleading/misappropriating nature. I would not recommend it. Read Le Consentement (or Consent in English) by Vanessa Springora, Putney by Sofka Zinovieff or My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell for a "Lolita-responsive" narrative instead. Or, you know... another memoir/novel about an adult/young adult abusive relationship, if that's what you're looking for. PS: this memoir wasn't that well written either, just as an fyi. I absolutely hated the couple of pseudo-Nabokovisms the author inserted for, I assume, stylistic effect.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    5 STARS "I wonder about things like fate, how sometimes things are just chosen for you, how women are chosen to endure suffering." - Being Lolita. REVIEW: Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and Alisson Wood for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Being Lolita" is Alisson Wood's memoir about her dark, forbidden romance with her high school English teacher Mr. North. Mr. North provides her with a copy of Nabokov's book "Lolita" and it s 5 STARS "I wonder about things like fate, how sometimes things are just chosen for you, how women are chosen to endure suffering." - Being Lolita. REVIEW: Thank you to NetGalley, Flatiron Books, and Alisson Wood for providing me with an advanced reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. "Being Lolita" is Alisson Wood's memoir about her dark, forbidden romance with her high school English teacher Mr. North. Mr. North provides her with a copy of Nabokov's book "Lolita" and it soon becomes the basis of what their relationship is built on. This continues from Alisson's high school years and into her college years as well. Soon the relationship becomes abusive and Alisson starts to examine if this is (or has ever been) true love and if she was even the one in control at all. I absolutely loved this memoir and am giving it five stars. I appreciate that Alisson Wood told her story with such vulnerability and strength. I especially like how the story is told, we first read about what happened to Alisson in high school and how that relationship developed, then see how it started to unravel, but rather than ending there Alisson talks about her adult life now and even examines/ analyzes relevant parts of the Nabokov text. I really appreciated this section and felt that it gave me new insights and considerations to think about while reading "Lolita". I just read that novel last month, so it is fresh in my mind. Overall, at times this book was hard to read due to the content, but it is handled with care and I believe that this is a vital, powerful story to hear and share. I am looking forward to whatever Alisson Wood puts out next! "Nothing I thought about what happened to me was true. Nothing about what happened to me, or about Lolita at all, was about love. Much less true love. I had known this, but reading it in my own handwriting on lined paper was painful in a new way. When I wrote those lines in my journal, I wasn't some powerful, sexy grown-up. I was a child being manipulated, being preyed upon." - Being Lolita See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram SYNOPSIS: “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. 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 connection that blooms from a simple crush into a forbidden romance. But as Mr. North’s hold on her tightens, Alisson is forced to evaluate how much of their 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. RELEASE DATE: August 4, 2020

  19. 5 out of 5

    aren

    pll ezra and aria are shaking

  20. 5 out of 5

    kyle

    not sure why this isnt getting as much hype as my dark vanessa??

  21. 5 out of 5

    Yukari Watanabe

    I think every teen should read this memoir together with Lolita at school. Much, much better than My Dark Vanessa.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ebony (EKG)

    Formal rtc!

  23. 4 out of 5

    MeMe

    Being Lolita is a different read for me. I enjoy reading this book. This is the second Memoir I read this year that I enjoyed. When it's published I will be purchasing a physical copy of this book. I need a physical copy on hand. I couldn't put it down. It flowed so smoothly. It's raw, emotional, vulnerable, and efficacious book. I love a memoir that reads like a novel. It kept my interest. Majoring in psychology I get to read about a teen who suffered from abuse from someone way older than Loli Being Lolita is a different read for me. I enjoy reading this book. This is the second Memoir I read this year that I enjoyed. When it's published I will be purchasing a physical copy of this book. I need a physical copy on hand. I couldn't put it down. It flowed so smoothly. It's raw, emotional, vulnerable, and efficacious book. I love a memoir that reads like a novel. It kept my interest. Majoring in psychology I get to read about a teen who suffered from abuse from someone way older than Lolita that had no business being involved with her. I really felt for Lolita the manipulation, the abuse, how he hurts her every time you can only imagine the mental she suffers from. I really feel like this should be a English read in high school and college because what Lolita went through can damage someone mentally. I would recommend this book especially to young women. I'm quite sure some of us then crushed on or professors are teachers who we even had a fantasy of being involved with. But nobody deserves that at all. A person older will always manipulate but that's more damaging than anything. Well done such and amazing read the rawness that was delivered is what kept me reading. Thank you Net galley for granting me the early access to read this one. This is one book that I would talk about when being asked what my favorite memoir is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tonya

    Thank you NetGalley and Flatiron Books for my ARC. This is a heartbreaking memoir about Alisson Wood’s experience of being groomed by her high school English teacher. It is very reminiscent of My Dark Vanessa which also tells the story of abuse and manipulation of a minor at the hands of an adult. My heart ached for Alisson as she relayed her recollection of her relationship with “The Teacher.” At times difficult to read, yet always compelling and inspiring. This is a survivor’s story that needs Thank you NetGalley and Flatiron Books for my ARC. This is a heartbreaking memoir about Alisson Wood’s experience of being groomed by her high school English teacher. It is very reminiscent of My Dark Vanessa which also tells the story of abuse and manipulation of a minor at the hands of an adult. My heart ached for Alisson as she relayed her recollection of her relationship with “The Teacher.” At times difficult to read, yet always compelling and inspiring. This is a survivor’s story that needs to be told.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alex Cruse

    4 stars. This was a really moving and at times, difficult memoir to read. I personally liked the vacillation between the author at present and the author of the past as well as the references to so many pieces in literature and mythology.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carah

    Amazing and poignant memoir about girl who was groomed by her high school teacher.... and how he used the book Lolita to do so. Fast paced, short chapters, and no unnecessary filler. Highly recommended!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    As others have mentioned - it's hard to say you loved this book or that I thought this was well done, given the substance - how do you rate someone's memoir about the abuse they endured? It's insane. However, I did feel a deep emotional connection to Alisson's story and words. Not because I could relate to her abuse, but in the way in which she systematically demonstrates the power of language or words. Alisson expertly shows us just how men in positions of power have used those words to create As others have mentioned - it's hard to say you loved this book or that I thought this was well done, given the substance - how do you rate someone's memoir about the abuse they endured? It's insane. However, I did feel a deep emotional connection to Alisson's story and words. Not because I could relate to her abuse, but in the way in which she systematically demonstrates the power of language or words. Alisson expertly shows us just how men in positions of power have used those words to create pathways for women built on and perpetuated by abuse. Our notions of fairytales, of fictional and idealized romance, are all built on making women feel sad, alone, isolated, only to find acceptance and warmth in the arms of a man. As she takes us through the beginning and end of her abusive relationship with the Teacher, I wanted to scream and cry. I wanted to know who this man was and see that some justice was done to him. I wanted to reach out and hug Alisson. It was sickening and consuming. The gaslighting was overwhelming and the fact that she kept this all to herself was utterly heartbreaking. I could feel myself falling down the rabbit hole with Alisson just like Alice in Wonderland, which was the scariest part of all. I could see it happening to me. I could see it happening to myself. While none of this felt new, the way in which Alisson voiced it and shared felt like being hit with a bucket of cold water while also igniting a fire within. Alisson's words will haunt me and stay with me. She manages to say so much without the need to be superfluous. She strips away the language to its bare bones that echo within you. What held this back from 5 stars for me (4.5 overall), is that while I know this is Alisson's story to tell and how she chooses to take the pen and power back from her abuser, I wanted to know more about the ending and her life after the Teacher. How did her journey through healing unfold and what did that look like. I wanted more than the broad strokes she offered because I so desperately admire her strength and voice and wanted more of her own story outside the Teacher. There's also reference to another significant event in Alisson's life after the Teacher that is mentioned in passing but stopped me cold in my tracks. While I understand that may not be trauma she wanted to share here, it nonetheless pulled me in deeper and left me feeling bereft at not seeing more of her journey.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sammi

    “He read to me from the book in his bed, Nabokov’s lines, the opening of Lolita’s part two: It was then that began our extensive travels all over... I understood how romantic this all would be. How much like Lolita this really was.” The year is 2001, 17 year old Alisson just returned to high school after bouts of depression and ultimately ECT therapy. She feels empty and unmotivated until a certain attractive English teacher starts to take an interest. There have been and always be “Lolitas” in “He read to me from the book in his bed, Nabokov’s lines, the opening of Lolita’s part two: It was then that began our extensive travels all over... I understood how romantic this all would be. How much like Lolita this really was.” The year is 2001, 17 year old Alisson just returned to high school after bouts of depression and ultimately ECT therapy. She feels empty and unmotivated until a certain attractive English teacher starts to take an interest. There have been and always be “Lolitas” in this world but damn, Alisson’s story is eeriely parallel to Nabokov’s Lolita - from her Humbert Humbert (re: Nick North), to the diary entries and everything in between. While some of these parallels Alisson admitted her 17 year old self did on purpose (Nick gave her a copy of Lolita and glorified it in every way so she often embodied Lolita in her actions when she didn’t know what to do), most of them were just a coincidence and clear only on later reflection. At the core of this story is ultimately the heart-wrenching story of a teenager and her abusive, manipulative, perverse, gas-lighting, Lolita-obsessed older lover. I hate to say that I “liked it” but i couldn’t put it down. “Being Lolita” is a very well-written, raw, emotional, vulnerable and impactful book. I have no doubt it will leave a lasting impression on many. Trigger warnings: sexual/verbal abuse, pedophilia, depression etc. Cover art: 5/5 Audience: Adult Memoir/Non-fiction * I received an advanced copy for free in exchange for an honest review *

  29. 4 out of 5

    chooksandbooksnz

    Being Lolita - Alisson Wood This memoir felt fast paced and read like a novel (I actually had to keep reminding myself that this was the authors real life). Alisson Wood recounts her senior years at high school and the start of her college experience while she is in a secret relationship with one of her teachers. Reading about relationship itself is very uncomfortable. The teacher is passionate about english and has an unhealthy obsession with the controversial classic ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Naboko Being Lolita - Alisson Wood This memoir felt fast paced and read like a novel (I actually had to keep reminding myself that this was the authors real life). Alisson Wood recounts her senior years at high school and the start of her college experience while she is in a secret relationship with one of her teachers. Reading about relationship itself is very uncomfortable. The teacher is passionate about english and has an unhealthy obsession with the controversial classic ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov written in 1955. I have not personally read Lolita but this memoir gives a fair idea of how things go. He bases their relationship on Lolita and there are many different types of abuse present along with manipulation and coercive control. Alisson describes being treated like prey and is extremely vulnerable throughout. It’s interesting to hear how her perspective of their relationship changes as she gets older. It’s difficult to explain this book- This was a raw, uncomfortable and gripping read. It is written extremely well and the short chapters make is very easy to digest. I think Alisson is very brave for sharing her story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    ren

    I don't love ascribing ratings to memoirs, because numerically assessing a writer's (often traumatic) story makes me, personally, feel a little weird. What I will say is that I really loved this book. It was well written and perfectly paced, though absolutely gut-wrenching from beginning to end. I applaud Alisson Wood for how candid she was about such a horrific time in her life. This is such an important read for those who aren't willing to fully grapple with the way our culture has twisted Lol I don't love ascribing ratings to memoirs, because numerically assessing a writer's (often traumatic) story makes me, personally, feel a little weird. What I will say is that I really loved this book. It was well written and perfectly paced, though absolutely gut-wrenching from beginning to end. I applaud Alisson Wood for how candid she was about such a horrific time in her life. This is such an important read for those who aren't willing to fully grapple with the way our culture has twisted Lolita into something misogynistic, victim-blaming, and vile.

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