Young women occupy a perilous space in the world: Their bodies are desired, their youth fetishized, and they're simultaneously placed on a pedestal and reviled as maddeningly seductive ... It is against the grim backdrop of this reality that Lisa Locascio's debut novel, Open Me, shines so brightly ... Locascio manages in this novel to critique white supremacy and false tolerance while also celebrating a young woman's sexuality and her right to it — a difficult, and often joyous feat that marks her as a remarkable author to keep your eyes on.
Locascio is a lovely, imagistic writer, and she’s especially exquisite on the female orgasm, evoking a purple smoke that becomes a motif ... Open Me spends nearly as much descriptive time on mucus, crotch odors and the grime that accumulates in the creases of an unshowered body as it does on the violent beauty of sex—a choice perhaps even more daring than the novel’s nuanced exploration of a teenage girl’s sexual imagination ... Though the framework is familiar, Open Me explodes clichés of female sexuality. On sex and love, it feels transgressive.
... a politically charged and erotic story that fearlessly tackles race, xenophobia, and female sexuality ... the novel seethes with passionate descriptions of both sex and emotions. It shamelessly details something often hidden and rarely discussed –– female sexuality in its rawest form ... With careful observation and lush details, Locascio distills the experiences of the body and the pleasure sex brings, which become an important means through which Roxana feels alive. Daring and flawless in her depiction, Locascio locates the desire at the root of this sensuality ... Open Me is an intimate story of self-discovery in a foreign land. Laced with politics and sexuality, Locascio’s novel plumbs a deeper place of love and understanding, toward oneself and others.
Locascio practically invents a new language, conjuring pure feelings and colors, for their sex, which casts a strong spell over Roxana until, almost as quickly, Søren closes himself to her. Simultaneously naive and aware, Roxana holds on until Søren’s darkness becomes impossible to ignore, and her curiosity about a Bosnian refugee whom Søren derides overtakes all else. This provocative, intimate, and metamorphosing character study vividly captures a young woman’s life-earned education.
A coming-of-age like no other, from a magnetic new voice in fiction, Open Me is a daringly original and darkly compelling portrait of a young woman discovering her power, her sex and her voice; and a propulsive exploration of estrangement and what it means to belong.
The novel’s focus on Roxana’s obsession with discovering the power of her body ('The space between my legs became the center of everything') comes off as navel-gazing rather than titillating or erotic. Readers will find themselves wishing for more from Roxana and her awakening.
Imbued with sex and politics, Locascio’s debut novel casts the traditional bildungsroman into a darker, more feminine light ... As she’s pushed to the shadowy periphery of Søren’s life, the novel—like Roxana—begins to turn inward. There are fewer flashbacks and longer, claustrophobic stretches detailing Roxana’s body, her longings, and the space she inhabits. The novel’s sometimes-deliberate sparseness gives way to sensual and frank descriptions of genitalia, bodily functions, and domesticity ... Above all else, Locascio centers the female body exquisitely. A debut exploring how we open up to others—and, more importantly, ourselves.