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Book of the Week: My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This novel is a dark, disturbing look into the twisted sexual relationship between a teacher and a student, wrought with denial, frustration and abusive sickness. It takes you on the journey of a seemingly normal teenage girl, adjusting to life at fifteen with the typical hormones, parent arguments and uncertainty about herself and her future…taking an unexpected detour into the arms of a predator.

Enter her English Lit professor, who encourages not just her writing, but her “darkness,” and we see the sadistic (and effortless) process of grooming; of manipulating a young girl into a world she doesn’t know she doesn’t belong in.

A life of non-consensual control of her body, mind and soul, well into adulthood.

It’s frustrating to watch her convince herself she wasn’t abused and to keep going back for more. To see people trying to help her, to support her, to wake her up from this nightmare, for her to only want to protect a man who stole 17 years of her life. More than one I wanted to hurl my book across the room!

Understanding emotional abuse myself, (now looking back) I can see my younger self in Vanessa as she defends, lies and protects the man she “loves” because she is in so deep and so convinced of her own darkness that she can’t see the light.

If you don’t have the stomach to read the reality of abuse, this isn’t for you—but if you can withstand truth, darkness and exposing something deeply wrong in our society, then this novel will awaken more than your imagination. Heart wrenching, but fantastic read.

To hear more about my thoughts on Vanessa and how I connected to her, check out my video book review, Find Yourself in a Character:

To learn more about this week’s author, Kate Elizabeth Russell, you can find her here:

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