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 Vanessais an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.
My Mini Thoughts
I went into this book knowing that it was about a student/teacher relationship. Those seem pretty common these days. No big deal right? Wrong.
Vanessa is what I would call an extreme introvert who doesn’t make friends easily and finds it easier to keep to herself. She had Jenny, her roommate her freshman year at boarding school, but things changed once Jenny got a boyfriend. I didn’t know what to think about their relationship. At first I thought she was in love with Jenny and that was why she was so upset with it. Then I thought Vanessa was a little obsessive about it. I still don’t know where I stand in that situation.
Strane did prey upon her because he most likely saw Vanessa as an easy target who had no close friends. A loner who would keep his secrets.
I just don’t know you guys. There were so many times I thought about throwing this in the DNF pile, but I kept reading mainly because I wanted to know how it would end.
Overall I did not enjoy reading this book, but if this sounds good to you, I would never say don’t read it.
This book comes out March 10, 2020.
Book Rating: 2/5
For the grand finale this would pair nicely with The Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.