Open Me by Lisa Locascio is an intriguing coming-of-age novel that combines elements of erotica, and the result will leave you eagerly awaiting to see what’s on the next page. The book focuses its narrative on new high school graduate Roxana, who has been anticipating her escape to Paris with her best friend on a student-abroad trip. The organisers mix-up her trip, and she’s instead sent-off to Copenhagen. Her parents are in the middle of a divorce, so though she isn’t visiting her ideal city of choice, she’s eager to escape to Copenhagen to get away from the messy situation occurring at home.
When she arrives in Copenhagen, she is greeted by 28-year-old Soren, who is an academic researcher and mentor in the student program she’s in. The two embark on a fast-paced passionate relationship that turns creepy. Soren encourages her to withdraw (or more like, withdraws for her) from her student program and whisks her away to a small town to fulfil his fantasy of having a lover locked in his apartment like a slave.
The relationship between Roxana and Soren is eerie, yet intriguing. With approximately ten years separating them, they’re at different stages of their life. Despite Soren’s age, he appears extremely immature. Roxana also seems to have low self-esteem, which explains why she seemed willing to be drawn to someone like Soren. The construction of Roxana’s character was incredible and it was interesting witnessing her head-space and how she was drawn into a world Soren attempted to dominate. Much to my pleasure, Locascio didn’t romanticize the creepy relationship between the pair and clearly presented the problems associated with a romantic relationship between someone lacking confidence like Roxana and a controlling-type like Soren. Their relationship felt real without the fantasy usually depicted in such relationships.
The novel expands from being solely a work of erotic fiction or a coming-of-age novel, especially with its discussions of xenophobia and race-relations with foreigners in Denmark. Soren’s character appears to have a disdain for foreigners who have sought refuge in Denmark. Soren’s feelings of race appear to paint a bigger picture of the real challenges foreigners endure when attempting to assimilate into a new home. I didn’t expect the book to dive into this issue, but doing so gave it much more depth.
Open Me is a compelling story, entrenched in heart and a captivating storyline.
Release date: August 2018 by Grove Press