My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

“I wonder how much victimhood they’d be willing to grant a girl like me.” 

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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?


Well this book definitely took a dark turn. I was already aware how this is a similarity to Lolita but more contemporary, I would say this is a very well written book.

The author actually captured very well of the mentality of her character, Vanessa, who became infatuated with her English teacher. What made her more confused and self-aware that it didn’t feel like a good thing was that her English teacher, Jacob, actually returned the feelings as well. He seemed very provocative with Vanessa during her time there in the boarding school.

This is definitely eerie story that made me cringe and felt down right dirty. Russell actually manage to find the right way to represent Vanessa into this story. I ended up being confused, sad, and angry while I was reading it. It touched every nerve in my body to be honest, I don’t who to be angry at, Vanessa for actually doing it, Jacob, for being a pedophile, Vanessa’s mom, for not having a close relationship with her daughter, Vanessa’s friend, for practically abandoning her just because she had a boyfriend. If she had someone to actually talk to, a friend, or a parent who actually pays attention, maybe things would have turned out differently for her.

I love this book because it gives you something to reflect on. Maybe you know someone who was abused and doesn’t know how to cope. Vanessa may be a fictional character but it seems she may share some similarities with someone who actually experienced it. I give this book 5 out 5 stars and would definitely recommend it.

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