My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa

A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition
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2000: Bright, ambitious fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. 2017: Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa. Now Vanessa 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? -- adapted from jacket
Publisher: New York : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
Branch Call Number: FICTION RUS
Characteristics: 372 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780062941503
006294150X

Opinion

From Library Staff

This is the most intense book I read this year. I also read "Putney" much earlier in the year, which deals with the same subject matter: pedophilia and the relationship between victim and abuser. Both were an eye-opener regarding how much the young teenage female victims were unwilling ... Read More »


From the critics


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c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

MY DARK VANESSA is a disturbing, intense, unsparing, compelling, shocking, and timely read. Given its subject matter, it's not for everyone. Beautifully written by author Kate Elizabeth Russell, it signifies a remarkable debut by a promising and gifted writer.

k
KS1110
Apr 10, 2021

Very captivating read. Diving into the inner thoughts of Vanessa gave me great insight to some possible self-talk of someone sexually abused. It broadened my perspective on the issue.

My god, this was a hard read. Not in the sense of density, or quality of writing; I found myself choking back the words at a breakneck pace, barely coming up for air, always instantly transported into the story. But wow, the subject matter. The utterly heartbreaking and enraging stuff this book is about...it's very challenging to look back on it now even.

b
BarbC56
Mar 11, 2021

Wow. This book is very DARK indeed! It is unforgettable and disturbing. It was a bit too graphic for me, but the story was intriguing, suspenseful, and sort of a psychological thriller. The subject matter is delicate: a pedophile and his muse. How long will their relationship continue? Will she ever turn on him? Will they ever be 'normal'? What happens to them plays out well, and I found the ending satisfying. It's a very appropriate story for the 2020's. It's a very well written novel.

m
MillieBT
Feb 20, 2021

I felt like I was missing something. There was no sense of hope or purpose. The story lacked sensitivity. I never connected to the characters or storyline. What is the author trying to convey????? Disappointing after all the buzz about this book

m
Margush
Jan 28, 2021

Tedious. Too detailed not enough dynamic. Didn’t like this book.

a
ammolder
Jan 08, 2021

I thought this book was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. The details about a student-teacher relationship created significant discomfort for me when reading, and at the same time, I appreciate that this book shed light on student-teacher relationships that occur but are never spoken about and the untold damage that can be caused to everyone involved. In terms of the writing itself, I loved this author's writing style - it had a nice flow, and I felt like I could easily visualize the story. I would read this again!

e
EljayJohnson
Jan 05, 2021

Russell tells the story of Vanessa's victimization at the age of 15 by her 27-years older teacher with brutal detail and a relentless airlessness that is exhausting. This is a dark and uncomfortable reading experience, and I felt frustration and horror and defeat throughout. Difficult to read and I'm sure it will be difficult to forget. Kudos to Russell for creating this vital work.

m
myccl
Jan 04, 2021

Too much hyper surrounding this book, which led me to believe it would be a far better read than it was. I was disappointed. At first I thought I was re-reading one of the stories from "Three Women" by Lisa Taddeo.

r
reader1809
Dec 28, 2020

suggested by a Goodreads editor

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Quotes

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c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“Hide all you want, but the truth will always find you.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“He wants to make sure he’ll always be there, no matter what. He wants to leave his fingerprints all over me, every piece of muscle and bone.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“I don’t say it, but sometimes I feel like that’s what he’s doing to me—breaking me apart, putting me back together as someone new.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“Kneeling before me, he lays his head on my lap and says, ‘I’m going to ruin you.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“Because even if I sometimes use the word abuse to describe certain things that were done to me, in someone else’s mouth the word turns ugly and absolute.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“The excuses we make for them are outrageous, but they’re nothing compared with the ones we make for ourselves.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“People will risk everything for a little bit of something beautiful.”

c
cknightkc
Apr 27, 2021

“It’s strange to know that whenever I remember myself at fifteen, I’ll think of this.”

Somehow I sensed what was coming for me even then. Really, though, what girl doesn't? It looms over you, that threat of violence. They drill the danger into your head until it starts to feel inevitable. You grow up wondering when it's finally going to happen.

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