My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"This, I think, is the cost of telling, even in the guise of fiction--once you do, it's the only thing about you anyone will ever care about. It defines you whether you want it to or not."
This book is dark, twisted, and raw. It delves into a topic that many writers shy away from, but Kate Elizabeth Russell dives completely in to tell a poignant, dark tale of a woman haunted by abuse.
When Vanessa gets involved with her teacher, Mr. Strane, she is led down a twisty path of lies, abuse, and betrayal that will mark the rest of her life. This book is a raw look inside the mind of an abused woman who spends much of her life denying the abuse. It's about the confusion girls face when abused and the darkness that can mar one's life if they don't find help and healing.
I found this book to be uncomfortable to read at times--which I think is the point. So many books shy away from the gritty, ugliness of abuse, especially in a power dynamic like this one. Russell digs into the description, the confusing emotions, and the uncomfortable scenes in a way few books do. She goes to a dark place in order to show the truth about how abuse and sexual assault can really change a woman.
I found this book to be revolutionary and brave in its portrayal. I know many women may be triggered by this book, so it isn't for everyone. However, I think this book makes an important statement about abuse, victims, and how difficult it is to move on from trauma.
In addition, Russell's writing style is beautiful, despite the ugly topic. She paints words in a way that will stick with you.
I will be looking for more work from this author because I appreciate the fact that she doesn't censor her writing and is willing to write a book that other authors would shy away from.
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USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door