Tuesday, March 2, 2021

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

All he did was fall in love with me and the world turned him into a monster.

An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher.

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn't abuse. It was love. She's sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life - her great sexual awakening - as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.

Trigger Warnings: Abuse, underage sex, teacher/student relationship. Rape, mental health.

This book has been sitting on my kindle for quite a while now and I’ve been building myself up to read it. I picked it up last week without giving it a second thought and just started to read. It doesn’t start you off easy, you know it’s going to get a bit dark after only the first chapter. It starts with Vanessa on the phone to Strane, she’s an adult now, and it shocked me to read she was talking to him when the blurb is quite obvious with what happens. 

The relationship between Strane and Vanessa is a very strange one, it’s one based on cohersion and grooming. Vanessa is infatuated with her teacher, loves the attention, and thinks its all alright what’s happening. We know it isn’t. They push the boundaries and take big chances on not getting caught, and here is more than one occasion when someone should have known and said something, but don’t. 

It has big mental health issues going on with Vanessa as she is older, and it shows exactly how things like this aren’t ever over after they are ‘over’. My heart went out to her massively.

This is the way this goes still today, and many children/young adults are in the same situation. There are a lot of hard to read parts and I had to stop a few times, so be warned it’s is not an easy read at all. I don’t have much else I can say about this except it’s a very powerful read, got 5 stars from me. And although it isn’t easy, it’s something that needs to be told, and has been done in a really good piece of writing.

Buy it, read it, understand it. 

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