Trigger Warning/Content Warning: Sexual abuse, pedophilia, and PTSD
My Dark Vanessa, how do I feel about you? I have never read a book that has me so conflicted and fraught with emotion.
Vanessa Wye is a scholarship student at a small, exclusive Maine boarding school. She is a loner and insecure. In the tenth grade Vanessa is in Mr. Strand’s English class. He starts a highly inappropriate rape affair with her. I’m using the word “affair” very, very loosely. It’s not even the right term. A grown man convinces a fifteen year old that’s she’s in love with him so he can control every aspect of her life, rape her, and destroy her life.
Lolita is heavily referenced, except this book is from Lolita’s perspective rather than (the stupidest protagonist name ever) Humbert Humbert’s. All in all it is an interesting concept.
I’m rereading Lolita to gain a better perspective of MDV. I may also reread Ethan Frome, which was also heavily referenced in the book.
I haven’t read Lolita since college, more years ago than I’d care to think about. And by ‘read Lolita’ I mean ‘read the Cliff’s Notes and BS’d my way thru an essay.’ I think I got a B.
But I digress.
Sorry to be a tad flip in the review of this horribly disturbing novel. I very much have a gallows sense of humor. It helps me cope with my depression and sense of futility.
I read MDV almost straight through. I was also sexually assaulted when I was 15, not by a teacher, but by someone I trusted. That made Vanessa somewhat relatable to me.
I just wanted to take Vanessa in my arms and let her cry. I wanted to rail against her parents and the school administration that failed her in the most spectacular way imagined. To keep this review PG I won’t go into what I would like to do to Strand.
If you chose to read My Dark Vanessa, you are in for a heck of a rollercoaster of emotions. If you or a loved on have been sexually abused I’d suggest treading carefully. Very carefully. I think a buddy read with a very close friend might be a good idea.
In conclusion, My Dark Vanessa is a compelling and disturbing read. Do I think it’s worth your time? Very much so. Just please go in with eyes wide open.
(Un)happy reading y’all,