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My Dark Vanessa: A Novel by Kate Elizabeth…
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My Dark Vanessa: A Novel (edition 2020)

by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0378014,822 (4.06)40
Seventeen years ago, bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye became entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. Now, 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?… (more)
Member:sheila150650
Title:My Dark Vanessa: A Novel
Authors:Kate Elizabeth Russell (Author)
Info:William Morrow (2020), 384 pages
Collections:Your library
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My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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» See also 40 mentions

English (78)  French (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
I had no intention of reading this book because I hate the cover THAT MUCH. But, so many people that I follow via Feedly were raving about it so I put a hold on it via Overdrive and the wait was so long that I totally forgot what the book was about, who exactly had raved about it, and why I wanted to read it. But, I'm glad I did because it was riveting from page 1 all the way through.

I thought the author did a GREAT job of getting into the mind of the 15-yo girl, explaining how she felt when her teacher took an interest in her and how her mind and body separated from each other.

This book should be read by anyone who is skeptical and "can't understand how this sort of thing happens" to girls and women. The author gives a good hard look at the whole "grooming" process.

"You're in charge here, Vanessa. You decide what we do."

"I don't feel forced, and I know I have the power to say no, but that isn't the same as being in charge."

( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
This was a good book...the story kept me intrigued and interested. I think the most important and innovative thing this author accomplished was looking at the adult Vanessa's perspective on what happened to her when she was 15. As a mother of adult children, it's easy for me to say that Vanessa was raped, and was the victim of a predator....and nowhere does the book deny this. But Vanessa says, tellingly, that she needs her relationship with her high school teacher to be a love story, because if it isn't, what does that mean for her self-image and sense of agency? The author probes this theme with depth and sensitivity, without ever excusing the teacher for his behaviour. Well worth reading for these insights...and as a fascinating story. ( )
  LynnB | Jul 16, 2021 |
A very difficult book to read and rate. My Dark Vanessa tells the disturbing story of how a 15-year old scholarship girl (Vanessa Wye) at a boarding school is isolated, groomed and then raped by her English teacher, Jacob Strane. Strane is a master manipulator, making Vanessa feel special and while he probably does love her at some level, his worship of the young nubile women is something Vanessa desperately needs and craves. She does not understand how emotionally crippling Stane's abuse is, and readers are taken back and forth between the events in the early 2000s and the current timeframe (2017), where we see the mess Strane has left in Vanessa. Other victims have reached out to her to tell her story, but she sees things in a strange light and still wants to protect Stane. Really sick stuff, poignant, decently written, but too repetitive. 2.5 stars, rounded up. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Lolita. Seductress or victim? Great love or abuse? Victim and abuse, of course. But what does Lolita herself think? Kate Elizabeth Russell's difficult and uncomfortable novel is a Lolita tale, but not from Humbert Humbert's point of view; My Dark Vanessa is from Lo's point of view then, and seventeen years on. It is graphic and hard to read, a tale that needs to see the light.

Vanessa Wye is fourteen years old and a budding poet when she convinces her parents to let her go to a top notch boarding school on a scholarship instead of to the local public school. She has a falling out with her roommate and best friend after her first year, leaving her lonely, feeling betrayed, and isolated at the beginning of her second year. She is captivated by her English teacher's interest in her writing and in her. Strane's interest and encouragement quickly goes beyond normal and acceptable as the 42 year old grooms the fifteen year old Vanessa, complimenting her in ways he shouldn't, touching her increasingly inappropriately, giving her books like Lolita to read that bend her to his thinking, and so on. As the abhorrent situation plays out, seventeen years further on, thirty-two year old Vanessa, who is still in touch sporadically with Strane, is horrified as she watches public allegations against her former teacher gather momentum. Contacted herself by the woman exposing Strane, adult Vanessa vows to say nothing, to protect her first love, truly believing that their relationship back then had been consensual and equal.

The past and present alternate in this deeply disturbing novel. The reader watches in horror as the pedophile Strane increases his hold on the teenaged Vanessa through manipulation and guilt. She rationalizes that he wouldn't jeopardize his entire life if his love for her wasn't one for the ages, convincing herself, despite her disassociation during repeated graphic rapes, that she too is in love with him, that this is nothing more than a grand, if unfairly forbidden, romance. Even in her thirties, when it is clear that her whole life has been derailed by this unnatural affair, she clings to the illusion that it was love between them, because to admit otherwise is unspeakable. The deep psychological damage Vanessa suffers is on display even as it is occurring. Russell has written a convincing portrait of a preyed upon child and the woman she grows into being. The first half of the book is well paced but the second half starts to feel repetitive and too long. Even so, the reader cannot help but writhe with repulsion and anger throughout the read and it's almost hard to know where to center all of this feeling, on Strane certainly, but also on the school and system that failed Vanessa, on Vanessa for withholding from her therapist, on the reporter who badgers her, on all of the people who saw what was happening at the time or who saw how she was so broken in the years afterwards and turned away from it. Infuriating, heartbreaking, stomach turning reading indeed. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jun 23, 2021 |
The most uncomfortable I've felt in a long time while reading. Not for the faint of heart or people for whom child abuse is a bridge too far. ( )
  nutbrownrose | Jun 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
En helstøpt, sitrende og akkurat passende ubehagelig Metoo-roman, som lugger deg i din moralske hjerterot.

«Min mørke Vanessa»: En historie om forbudt kjærlighet?

Nei. Eller jo. Men nei.

Mens jeg som leser røres inn i en grumsete grøt av lengsel, erotikk, løgner og manipulasjon, blir jeg likevel i tvil til tider. For hvor går egentlig grensen mellom overgrep og destruktiv kjærlighet? Hva er definisjonen på maktmisbruk, og når og hvordan gjelds prinsippet om samtykke? Ikke minst: Hvem er dommerne som definerer?
added by annek49 | editNRK, Shana Fevang Mathai (Apr 30, 2020)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kate Elizabeth Russellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gummer, GraceNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Restrepo, XimenaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the real-life Dolores Hayes and Vanessa Wyes whose stories have not yet been heard, believed, or understood
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I get ready for work and the post has been up for eight hours.
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Seventeen years ago, bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye became entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher. Now, 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?

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