My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa

A Novel

eBook - 2020
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"Russell manages a brutal originality. . . . [an] exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power." --The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice

"To call this book a 'conversation piece' or 'an important book' feels belittling . . . [it] is so much more than that. It's a lightning rod. A brilliantly crafted novel."--The Washington Post

A most anticipated book by The New York Times * USA Today * Entertainment Weekly * Marie Claire * Elle * Harper's Bazaar * Bustle * Newsweek * New York Post * Esquire * Real Simple * The Sunday Times * The Guardian

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.

Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062941527
Call Number: EBOOK AXIS 360
Characteristics: 1 online resource (372 pages)
text file,rda


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IndyPL_LeahK Mar 31, 2020

This is perhaps one of the most unsettling and uncomfortable reads yet as difficult as it is to read, it is impossible to put down. Kate Elizabeth Russell's debut novel is a psychological study of sexual abuse that asks hard questions. What is consent? Who is a victim? Who is the abuser? And how can psychological grooming look like seduction? Russell has spent 18 years writing this book which makes it all the more powerful a read. Russell explores the character Vanessa alternating in time when she was a 15 year old high school student who was abused by her 42 year old English teacher and the year 2000 as a 32 year old woman in the current #metoo movement still suffering from that abuse. The character development of Vanessa is masterfully written and profoundly realistic. There are moments that the novel reads more like a biography especially the adolescent chapters. Reader prepare yourself for an intense and disturbing experience that will at times make you feel a voyeur to the abuse.

JCLColleenO Mar 31, 2020

3.5 stars-This was hard to read, but gave a good interpretation of how the experience affected Vanessa’s life for decades. The author did a very good job of portraying how Vanessa’s trauma was so ingrained & powerful. My lower rating was because I felt that the book was way too long.

Mar 20, 2020

Loved this read it in a couple days

JCLGreggW Feb 18, 2020

This literary debut novel about the relationship between a young student and her much older teacher is a dark, glittering gem, tackling tough issues with an even hand. Socially and culturally timely yet elegantly and intimately crafted. One of the year's best.

debwalker Feb 15, 2020

#metoo goes to boarding school.....

JCLPiepieB Jan 23, 2020

This is the type of book where, after you finish reading it, you might want to just sit for a while and "process." Even after reading and reviewing this, I'm still sitting here thinking about this story and these characters.

Despite its "icky" subject matter, this book is addicting and readable. You don't have to read Lolita before reading this one. The pacing moved along rapidly for me. Plus ... there were a couple of dogs.

An important book to familiarize yourself with during the #MeToo movement.

ArapahoeAlice Dec 02, 2019

Brilliant book. Beautiful writing, emotionally complex characters. An authentic and painful portrayal of the relationship between an abused teenager and her abuser. Highly recommend.

OPL_BethS Sep 10, 2019

Issue oriented and bleak, this book continues to haunt me well after I put it down. I simply can't stop thinking about Vanessa and her resistance to being label a victim. The book is so well written and characters are so believable that it's hard to believe it's fiction.


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