Finished in a remarkably short amount of time, “My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell is the first book of the year that I gave 5 stars to. It’s a seriously good read. The book was purchased directly for this prompt, and I don’t regret it at all.

The story is told at two different times, from the perspective of the same character, alternating between her struggles to adapt to real life as a 32-year-old woman and her experiences as a 15-year-old girl who begins a life-long relationship with her English teacher. Each chapter adds a different layer to the story until they both converge at the end of the book.

It’s a very controversial story, and it has received mixed reviews, though mostly positive. The critics are likely the ones who also ban books like Harry Potter for supposed witchcraft. Stories about minor girls and older men have been told many times, and the book references “Lolita” quite often. What I appreciated about this book was that it didn’t glorify the relationship itself; instead, it focused on the aftermath and the PTSD that the victim, who doesn’t feel like a victim, deals with every day of her life.

One of the lines at the end of the story where she states, “It has to be a love story,” is one of the saddest moments in the book. I cried my eyes out. It’s definitely worth the read if you can navigate the moral complexities.

STARTED: January 24, 2021
FINISHED: January 25, 2021

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