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My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

Written by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Narrated by Grace Gummer


My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

Written by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Narrated by Grace Gummer

ratings:
4.5/5 (1,185 ratings)
Length:
16 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Mar 10, 2020
ISBN:
9780062941534
Format:
Audiobook

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Description

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.

Includes a bonus conversation with Kate Elizabeth Russell, Grace Gummer, and Jessica Williams (editor of My Dark Vanessa).

Publisher:
Released:
Mar 10, 2020
ISBN:
9780062941534
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

Kate Elizabeth Russell is originally from eastern Maine. She holds a PhD in creative writing from the University of Kansas and an MFA from Indiana University. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.



Reviews

What people think about My Dark Vanessa

4.4
1185 ratings / 92 Reviews
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Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Disturbing. Too real, yet so captivating and addicting. Character development was phenomenal.
  • (5/5)
    My Dark Vanessa is a remarkable novel, and not just because it takes the familiar teacher-student sex trope and turns it on its head. Fifteen-year old Vanessa, a scholarship student at a prestigious boarding school, doesn’t fit in anywhere. Her English teacher, Jacob Strane, singles her out for special attention, which quickly leads to a sexual affair. When their relationship is discovered, Strane sacrifices her to save his own sorry hide. As an adult, Vanessa can’t let go of Strane, or the incidents that defined her adolescence. Was she really a victim, like everyone says? Or did she choose her fate?I really liked this dark coming of age story, which I think deserves to be read on its own merits, apart from the controversy that surrounded it in the early part of 2020. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    This was an eerie book for me. I was a naive teenager in the mid-70s when I was a junior in high school. I had to take a half year of health. My teacher started off leaving me notes in French on my quizzes, keeping me after class, having me come in free periods, etc. Now I see his behavior for what it was - grooming. The end for me was him trying to use me as his "dummy" for a CPR class. I told my parents he was making me uncomfortable. They went to the principal who let me finish the class (only a few weeks) "independent study." Nothing happened to the teacher. During the second semester a sophomore ended up pregnant by this teacher. He was allowed to "resign" and he divorced his wife, married his student and moved to Vermont to teach. A few years later they divorced because not surprising, he was having sex with students there. This book really hit home for how accurate the behaviors of all involved were enunciated. It was very insightful.
  • (5/5)
    Incredible that this is Russell's first novel. I couldn't put it down, despite how stressful it could be at times.
  • (2/5)
    This was a disappointment. I was expecting a nuanced story about a teacher-student affair. But it was a story about abuse. None of the characters were likeable. I'm glad to be done with it.I don't think it benefited by all the going back-and-forth in time. We knew the climax well before the end; a little suspense would have improved the story. Towards the end there was an incident that I thought was going to give an interesting plot twist, but it went nowhere. Thus there was no satisfaction in reaching the end - except that I didn't have to spend another evening with 100% dysfunctional Vanessa (does she NEVER have a happy or successful moment?) or icky Strane (just yuck, yuck, yuck).Weird thing that annoyed me: the oddball one-syllable last names almost everyone had. One person's last name was only two letters long. It was a strange affectation (and yes, I know I'm strange for noticing and getting annoyed by it).
  • (4/5)
    This book is very disturbing and will stay with the reader long after finishing.
    Even though this is fiction it is so close to what has happened in the world to not feel real.
    A 15 year old girl is groomed and molested by her teacher and the story takes you through her life from when it started until she is in her 30's. How messed up she is and how brain washer he made her. How her parents handled everything and how its possible that things like this happen is told so brilliantly by the author. This is a first book by Kate Elizabeth Russell. I cant wait to see what she writes next. Such an amazingly well written story!