REVIEW: MY DARK VANESSA by KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL

Click here to read the book synopsis on Goodreads.

This review took way longer than the average review takes me to write. I actually considered not reviewing it at all because I know how upsetting the content of this book will feel to many readers. But as I sat on it a little more, I decided to write a very careful review.

To start out, I want to talk about the content of this book – the storyline, and why it may trigger people. This dual timeline narrated by our main character Vanessa Wye covers years in high school and some time in her early/mid 20’s. In her high school time, we learn about her ongoing “relationship” with an adult male teacher. The descriptions of grooming, manipulation, sexual assault/rape (disguised by the perp as “love”) will upset many readers. Anyone who has experienced these things in their life should likely NOT pick up this book – it will absolutely be triggering and won’t be helpful.

Now, to move onto the writing and the story itself. I read this book partly on audio and partly as a hard copy, and the audio kept my attention in a way no other fiction audiobook ever has. This book was nothing short of captivating. Kate Elizabeth Russell somehow managed to pull off one of the most difficult feats a writer can attempt – capturing the trauma of a very difficult subject while still compelling the reader to keep moving forward to find out what happens. I never felt like the story lulled. I put down the book at the end of reach reading session wishing that I could keep going. I felt like I needed to take 150 showers as I went because the subject matter was so heavy/dirty (I cannot think of a better word for the life of me) but I also didn’t want to stop reading it.

If you are interested in this book, proceed with caution. Know that it may feel heavy and disheartening, but that it captured something that absolutely happens in our world. As a parent, I felt like I needed to read this to better understand how to talk to my children about the reality of this matter. And I hope that the real life Vanessa’s bring their Mr. Strane’s to justice.

Content warnings:

Addiction
Alcohol abuse
Body shaming
Child abuse (sexual)
Death of a dog
Drowning
Emotional abuse
Gaslighting
Graphic language
Graphic sexual content
Grooming
Narcissism
Pedophilia
Repeated Sexual Assault
Suicide

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jennastopreading

Find me on Instagram @jennastopreading

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