WOW! This book! It's intense! It's intense in the best way possible.
Kate Elizabeth Russell's debut novel My Dark Vanessa, is exceptional. The story itself is a dark one. One might call it a modern day Lolita and that classic novel has definitely inspired this story. In the year 2000, Vanessa Wye is only fifteen years old. She's an intelligent student at a private school. She's naive, and has her whole future in front of her. She also likes her English teacher. She daydreams about having a relationship with him.
Jacob Strane is her 42 year old English teacher. He lets Vanessa stay behind after class. She's always in his room and talking with him. He shares books with her and eventually, they begin an affair.
(If I could tell you how long it took me to write those last few sentences... because as I said this story is dark, it's not an easy topic. Strane makes me want to throw up and if I could just shake some sense into Vanessa.... )
This affair lasts quite some time, even when there are rumours. Where is the school in all this? Where are Vanessa's parents? They are there... but not in the way I would like them to be.
Now it's 2017. Vanessa is in her 30's and Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student. That former student tries to get Vanessa to talk about what happened to her, but Vanessa doesn't see it as abuse. She sees what she had with Strane as a love story. If she re-writes that part of her story she will have to re-think everything.
The brilliance of this book is in how the story is told. It's told from Vanessa's perspective, through her thoughts and emotions. If it was told in any other way it wouldn't have been nearly as powerful and compelling. Strane's manipulation and grooming is subtle and obviously twisted.
This topic can be explosive, and the author does not shy away from that so be aware if you choose to read this book. This book made me angry. It made me cringe. It made my heart hurt. It made me feel emotions I didn't even know I had. This is a book that deals with a controversial topic in a way that no other book I've read has. It has the ability to influence conversations and the way we think about predators of children.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛