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.
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.