Coy best describes Alisson Wood’s relationship with the reader in Being Lolita. Wood cunningly uses the reader’s knowledge so that, at decisive points, they either read with or against the grain of this text ... Enacting the very structure of Nabokov’s novel, Wood explores the parallels between her relationship and Dolores Haze’s and expertly plays into this titillating trope: an illicit affair between teacher and student. However, Wood does not stop at mere mimicry. In her resonant and impressionistic prose, Wood dismantles the fantasy showing its underbelly ... Placing the reader directly into adolescent Alisson’s subjective experience often provoked potent feelings of frustration, discomfort, and desire, just as Alison felt them. Using seduction as a narrative tool, Wood flirts with readers, pulling them into the web of her relationship with Mr. Nick North. The reader’s background knowledge of Lolita adds dramatic irony, which Wood deftly uses to her advantage, creating a haunting effect as Wood delivers seemingly innocuous but impactful lines. Combined, these tactics give Wood the ability to parallel and detract from Nabokov’s work as needed to serve the memoir’s ultimate goal, illustrating the power of an unreliable narrator to shape a story. While the power of the memoir comes with its precision, it was, at times, also its shortcoming ... The tight grip Wood uses to drive the narrative forward can also be reined back at a moment’s notice, never allowing the reader to stray too far from Wood’s interpretation of events ... However, even as I write this criticism, I cannot wholly lean into it. As much as it frustrated me, I’m not sure that this is really a problem for Wood’s prose ... Because at the end of the day, this beautiful and powerful memoir should have had to be written.
... a[n] a unflinching account ... 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.
... [an] uneven memoir that overstretches parallels to Nabokov’s tale ... Wood tells her tale swiftly and suspensefully, but the writing can be wooden...and novelistically purple ... At heart, this is a potboiler with a gloss of literary street cred, and Wood may suspect it: 'Sometimes I worry that the whole Lolita intertextuality is just a conceit, a clever way to elevate what happened to me, to raise it above the tawdry.' Many readers will also suspect it, but others will be turning the pages too fast to care. An absorbing but flawed memoir of a male teacher’s abuse of a young female student.