Book Review: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

“I can’t lose the thing I’ve held onto for so long… I just really need it to be a love story, you know? I really, really need it to be that.”

Published in 2020, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell follows the story of Vanessa Wye who was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher. She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student. Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that. Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

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