Book # 55
Rating…. keep reading
I just finished My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Rusell and I’m having a very hard time organising my thoughts and deciding my rating.
If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be UNCOMFORTABLE. I starting flagging all the parts that made me very uncomfortable and believe me when I say that it looks like a Christmas tree due to the numerous colours used as I kept running out of post-its.
What is this book about? It’s about Vanessa’s life and how her relationship with her lit teacher, which started back when she was 15 and he was in his late 30s, impacted not only her self-esteem but also the woman she became after college and her entire life. In this novel, we hear from Vanessa in the present time (2017) while she is being pressured by a journalist to tell her story of abuse but also, we hear from her younger self, back when she was 14, at a boarding school and when her love for literature and poetry took her to Mr Strane’s classroom. Where and when everything started.
I had the hardest time reading this book… never I had felt so uncomfortable reading a novel. While reading it, I couldn’t avoid remembering the rumours in my own high school back when I was 14. There were multiple rumours, and the teacher in question was the image I pictured in my head every time Mr Strane was mentioned. Horrific? Grose? Yes!!!! But I couldn’t avoid it. It felt like I was reading the story of one of my classmates and that teacher… and how close these two stories are. And now that I’m done reading it… I can’t help myself wonder the impact that “situation” had on her life, on her future, on her self-esteem. I also worry about the school system, how back then and now, these things keep happening, right under their noses. Because teacher-student affairs are sadly not a thing of the past, maybe less common now, but still, we keep reading on the news more and more allegations coming to light every week.
In conclusion, this is a very realistic, raw, uncomfortable novel that does not feel like a novel, it reads more like a memoir.