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My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

(1 customer review)



Book Summary

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.


Condition: New

Hardcover, Published March 10, 2020 by William Morrow

ISBN: 9780062941503


1 review for My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

  1. KC

    I went to boarding school for high school. Honestly, there were absolutely student teacher relationships going on, and I know for a fact these weren’t rumors. Back then I didn’t think too much about this, now I look at it as absolutely disgusting, sickening, and predatory. To clarify, it wasn’t me, but it was several people who I shared friends with.

    Looking back have you ever thought it was cool to date an older man, or trust a guy you shouldn’t? Ever put yourself in a bad situation because you were too young and naive to know better? Warning: My Dark Vanessa is going to bring back these experiences.

    My Dark Vanessa is an uncomfortable, story told from the view point of Vanessa as a teenager and again as an adult as she recounts the romantic relationship she had with her teacher. Parts are maddening, horrific, and heart breaking. Vanessa thinks she’s in love as a teenager, but then we see the aftermath of how this affected her as an adult. Without spoiling too much, I really felt for Vanessa, this story really resonated with me as a female who made mistakes of trusting the wrong people in my youth. I loved how the story discusses Fiona Apple and Brittany Spears as well, and the media’s role in over sexualizing teenage girls.

    Going into this one I was a little nervous, I had read some poor reviews on this one, but I definitely ended up loving it. I listened to the majority of this one and the narrator was absolutely amazing. She truly brought Vanessa to life. This book brings up a lot of feelings, if you are looking for an easy read, this won’t be for you. But if you want something that is unique, uncomfortably heartbreaking, but powerful, please do yourself a favor and read/listen to this one!

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