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My Dark Vanessa: A Novel Hardcover – March 10, 2020

4.4 out of 5 stars 850 ratings

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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of March 2020: My Dark Vanessa is an exploration of the repercussions of a March/December relationship between a teacher and his student. Vanessa is contacted by a woman who is about to go public with a story of sexual abuse at the hands of an English teacher, Jacob Strane, when she was a high school student. She has heard some stories about Vanessa and Strane, and wants to know if Vanessa has a story similar to her own. And Vanessa does indeed have a story about Strane, but in her mind the story is about her first love and their all-consuming passion. And it’s the story of how that passion has reverberated through the years since, arresting Vanessa at the point in her life when Strane assured her she was the love of his. Can a teacher have had two teenage loves of his life? Or does Vanessa need to acknowledge that there’s another name for the role Strane plays in her memory? Masterfully switching between present-day and past, Vanessa starts to look at their relationship through the lens of the #MeToo moment, raising uncomfortable questions about consent, agency, abuse, manipulation and memory in this provocative and riveting novel. —Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Book Review

Review

"Exquisite . . . My Dark Vanessa stands on its own as simultaneously specific and universal—about a young woman who believes she’s in a love story when she’s actually in a psychological horror film." (Los Angeles Times)

“This timely, riveting debut illuminates the interplay between a child’s heartbreaking confusion and the deepest perversions of power.” (People, Book of the Week)

"A brilliant and stunning debut, My Dark Vanessa is utterly truth-rattling, humane in its clarity and chilling in its resonance. An absolute must read." (Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl)

My Dark Vanessa destroyed me. This moving, ferocious story of an all-consuming relationship between a teenager and her teacher traces not just a stolen girlhood, but the aftershocks that haunt trauma survivors years into the future. Gripping, stunningly written, and important . . . I’ve been waiting for this book.” (Julie Buntin, author of Marlena)

"My Dark Vanessa is a harrowing triumph. Complex, smart, and utterly riveting from start to finish, Kate Elizabeth Russell’s debut novel cracks open assumptions and clichés, and delivers a layered, nuanced narrative that is vital for a more thorough understanding of the extent and longevity of the damage wrought by sexual abuse. Be prepared for a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat, and reading late into the night." (Lily King, bestselling author of Euphoria)

"My Dark Vanessa is a total masterpiece of tone and point of view, even more impressive for how uninvested it seems in impressing us. It's fascinating and devastating and brilliant. I loved it." (Kristen Roupenian, bestselling author of You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories)

“My Dark Vanessa is a singular achievement—a masterpiece of tension and tone that will simultaneously grip you, horrify you, and move you. . . . With utmost sensitivity and vivid, gut-churning detail, Russell illuminates Vanessa’s struggle to see the story of her life for the tragedy it truly is. Before you start My Dark Vanessa, clear your schedule for the next few days—this . . . will utterly consume you.” (Esquire, The Best Books Coming Out This Winter)

"Explosive . . . a significant addition to the necessary reassessments and conversations sparked by the #MeToo movement.” (NPR)

“Gripping and unsettling . . . a bracingly uncompromising book. It will doubtless be devoured with an ache of recognition by large numbers of women. But it really ought to be read by men.”  (The Economist)

“As powerful as it is painful, and deserves its reputation as one of the defining books of the #MeToo era.” (Vogue)

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
850 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on March 13, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2020
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Top international reviews

Emma Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, compelling and thought-provoking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2020
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1.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 16, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2020
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The Book Babe
5.0 out of 5 stars A stand-out, thought-provoking, devastating novel.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 27, 2020
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Queen of Denmark
4.0 out of 5 stars Holds nothing back
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2020
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Sarah Kong
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the struggle!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 9, 2020
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Cathyreadsalot
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark dark and darker
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 7, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 1, 2020
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Denis Reed
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of the abuser
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 15, 2020
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Do-not-disturb
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and thought provoking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 16, 2020
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JANE HAWKINS
1.0 out of 5 stars Hugely over hyped
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 18, 2020
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J. Millman
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and disturbing.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 18, 2020
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tash88
5.0 out of 5 stars A very thorough look into the mechanisms of grooming and hebephilia.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 8, 2020
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BogHopper
2.0 out of 5 stars Hyped to promote sales
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 10, 2020
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