My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell Book Summary


“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.

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My Dark Vanessa (Kate Elizabeth Russell) Book Reviews

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- No1 star

This book took me so long to finish because of how uninteresting it was. I’d hoped it would be more...

- Couldn’t put this down5 star

I was so taken by the emotions that just flew off the pages and into me while reading. The author has an immense way of choosing her words and allowing us to become so familiar and empathic for Vanessa that oftentimes you’re profoundly impacted by the weight and the horrific pain that she was forced to endure for far to long. Vanessa was failed by mostly every adult in her young life, from her teachers, her parents and the others who took advantage of a young broken woman who was clearly a victim and vulnerable. A very clear and precise picture of what sexually abused children go through and how they define it, endure it and try to move on from it. Harrowing story but HIGHLY RECOMMEND

- great read !!5 star

i finished it in a few days! couldn’t put it down, written so well and even though i never experienced anything like this, i could feel the emotions so strong. must read.

- Page turner4 star

Great read of a tough subject.

- Absolutely incredible5 star

This book was amazing. It was extremely heavy and brought out a lot of emotions. Definitely a trigger if you’ve dealt with something like this before. Regardless, it was incredibly written and I couldn’t put it down

- A novel I’ll never forget5 star

First I have to say, this is one of the best written books in modern day history. This book sent chills down my spine. Honestly I can relate to this character and to her story, so maybe I’m biased. But truly an excellent written book. It was triggering, yet amusing. I had to stop myself from reading it in one day. I could see every inch of this story play out in my head. Always a sign of a great novel. You have to read my dark Vanessa. Trust me.

- Loved!!!!5 star

My Review: Wow, wow, wow, this book took my breathe away!!!!! I haven’t read a book like this in a very long time. This story will stay with me and forever impact me. This is definitely my number one book I read for this year. It was just that good. This book was about a teenage girl who was lost and confused. She was seeking love and attention in all the wrong places. She was forever impacted by the choices she’s made. I want to start by saying that I was amazed by this debut novel. With a debut novel you expect flaws but with this one I found none. It was so beautifully well written. It really felt as if I was there living the story with all of them. It was so descriptive and I loved that. Even the plot kept me going. There was never a dull moment and you really felt for Vanessa and what she was going through. You also wanted to shake her at some parts and tell her she’s a victim and to stop blaming herself for what happened. It was not her fault that an older authority figure took advantage of her at such a young age. Now that brings me to the teacher who thought he did nothing wrong. I felt nothing but hate towards this man through the whole entire book. He was a master manipulator but acted like he did nothing wrong. He wanted to be able to live with himself for what he did and knew it was wrong. He did get what was coming to him in the end. Not the best of justice but it would do. This one of the best books I’ve read in my whole life and I’ve read a lot of books. It did live up to his hype and I’m so glad I read this great debut novel. Between the plot, characters and all the twists in this book it made it an easy and fast read. I would definitely recommend it and happily give it 5 Hearts❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

- My Dark Vanessa1 star

Zero stars. Worst book I’ve read in a long time.

- My Dark Vanessa5 star

Sad story, I felt sorry for her. He knew she was weak and alone with no friends away from home. Her parents should have investigated into the teacher, Vanessa was not the first. Well written story.

- Hard to put down5 star

This book was provocative, erotic, disturbing, frustrating and hopeful. I was immediately engrossed in the story and couldn’t put it down. Vanessa is a complex character. She’s delusional about being abused but she had to make her own truth to survive just like her abuser, the English teacher. It’s a well written story that flashes back and forth in Vanessa’s life. I love the writing style and think this would be a great book club book. So much to discuss and analyze. I really enjoyed it!

- Good... but about 100 pages too long.3 star

The book is sharply written and presents an insight I’ve never seen in a novel before when it comes to such delicate subject matter. There’s nothing about abuse that can be neatly packaged but while the book gave us insight, I wish it would have given us lessons and cautionary takeaways instead of repetitive references to Nabokov’s Lolita. Also, I feel like it missed the mark in terms of exploring the protagonist’s own mindset before the abuse. There is some proof that she is academically gifted (which doesn’t always translate to success in the world of work) but there seem to be a lack of familial support which may point to other issues which compounded her situation.

- Entire book is about a pedofile1 star

Don’t do this to yourself. I waited the whole book for some mystery. The only mystery is why I paid to read about this sick teacher and his young girls

- Worth it5 star

The raw honesty in the story was difficult for me. Vanessa is a fully developed character, and the story moves at a good pace, yet allowing you to be in Vanessa at all times. You feel what she is feeling. The writing is excellent.

- This book stays with you5 star

Although the subject matter is quite hard to digest, the author tells the story beautifully in a way never done before, giving a voice to victims. A must read.

- Enlightening in the most heartbreaking way5 star

This book is nothing like I’ve ever read. The character of Vanessa touches your soul in every which way by challenging what it means to be a victim. Such a topical piece that is tragic, profound, and bittersweet.

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5 star

May: - My Dark Vanessa...was definitely dark but one of the best books I’ve read this year

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Just finished reading My Dark Vanessa and have so many thoughts. If you’ve read any good think pieces please send them my way!

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4 of 5 stars to My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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@elebethx Commented! Great review. Have you read My Dark Vanessa? Similar vibes...

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Queria ler my dark vanessa mas os gatilhos que tem nele acho que me fariam mal então eu fico topo 🤡

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On page 196 of 384 of My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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@carriedoylek Oh, I've heard all of these are really good - especially My Dark Vanessa. Thanks!

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in hindsight it was not a good idea to binge all of euphoria on saturday night only to spend all of last night read…

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I’m currently reading my dark Vanessa and I’m just extremely uncomfortable. My skin is crawling.

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Dazzling debut novels for 2020 available on @BorrowBox ebook My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell An era-de…

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50% done with My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell: what....

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@usernumber83747 i’ve heard good things about my dark vanessa, would you recommend it?

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@keziah70 Try My Dark Vanessa instead. Really dark. Got a hunch it might appeal more.

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@Scribd @alayadj My Dark Vanessa

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Finished book #5 of the year.. My Dark Vanessa. Very good read. Disturbing and dark but a great read.

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