! TRIGGERWARNING: ABUSE !
Norwegian title: Min mørke Vanessa
As you can see this book needed a warning so if you have some sort of trouble with such topics, mental health, or don’t want to read about it then stop reading this review immediately!
Wow, this book really hit all the anger buds in my emotional system…What a powerful book about a MeToo topic that’s been around for centuries! This book was a buddy read with a lot of amazing ladies and I’ll post their IG handles later in this post! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:
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?
The story in My Dark Vanessa is in many ways not a new story but it has more shades to it than black and white. This sort of abuse has been going on for many centuries but it’s not until the recent years that it has been taken seriously by the public. However, in this story, we’re introduced to the many different sides a story like this can have. I think this is a very good technique used by the author! Instead of saying ‘This is how it is and no other side that matters’ we’re shown characters that find happiness in their relationship even though it seems unnatural to the outside world. I think it is rather important to show that things can have more than one aspect, even though one of these aspects is abuse. By saying this I’m in no way supporting the abuse of any kind! I’m just trying to express that sometimes we need to be a bit more willing to listen to the entire story.
That being said it’s been a while since a book made me this angry and frustrated! Strane, as he is known in the book, is such a weak and manipulative man! It makes me so angry to read how he treats Vanessa but I think it makes me even angrier to read about how he makes Vanessa doubt herself. Vanessa is a strong young lady in many aspects but throughout the book when it comes to Strane all her walls seem to crumble, and this just keeps on going! This power he wields over her is just not ok, and it makes me sick to think that this is something that happens to many children all over the world. School is supposed to be a safe place that promotes learning for our young ones, not bring trauma and distress!
I both like and dislike Vanessa, our main character. In many ways, she’s annoying, needy, and childish, but SHE IS A CHILD! When we meet her the first time she’s only 15 so I can accept that she behaves the way she does. However, the author portrays her as much older, probably because Vanessa herself really yearns for adulthood and the possibillites she’ll have when she is older, and this sometimes makes it difficult to remember that she is 15 years old half the time we read her perspective. At the same time, I like that she’s opinionated, specific, and intelligent. In many ways, you get the sense that she both does and doesn’t understand what’s happening between her and Strane, and this is why this relationship is very interesting yet also very frustrating! Vanessa experience both inner and external conflicts, and it’s quite interesting to witness these as a reader and how she reasons for them.
The book in general moves forward quite nicely. Maybe it even was a bit too long in some sections but this wasn’t something that bothered me immensely. It’s an easy read as far as language, however, the topic makes it a difficult and demanding book hence my warning at the beginning of this review.
My Dark Vanessa is an important and difficult book. Russell uses a lot of great techniques in order to show the many sides of an abusive relationship and this makes the book a page-turner in many aspects. The topic is highly relevant for society today, and I think its a book many will remember. It was very rewarding to read this with other people and discuss it as the story progressed on the pages, and I think it gave a deeper understanding of the story. Highly recommend it, and also this book if you need a MeToo related book!
My reading-buddy ladies and their IG handle:
@annkolaas |@elinviktoriaunstad |@books.forme |@lesegleden |@leseverden |@nedaalaeisen |@readygoread |@ unninim |@writes.and.reads |@hettythelibrarian
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Theme: MeToo, abuse, trauma
– The Book Reader