My Dark Vanessa

Amid the rising wave of sexual assault allegations against powerful men in 2017, thirty-two-year-old Vanessa Wye learns of one that involves her intimately: her high school English teacher Jacob Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by another former student. The scandal brings back memories of her past and the idyllic campus of the exclusive boarding school she attended in Maine. A scholarship student, serious, lonely, and yearning for adulthood, Vanessa was both baffled and enthralled when Strane singled her out for his attention. Here was a man nearly three times her age who recognized and praised her intellect, writing talent, and beauty—and, at fifteen-years old, she fell into a fiery and life-defining affair with him. Now, nearly two decades later, another woman has shone a spotlight on Strane, and Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenaged self willingly engaged in the relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? How can she accept that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may have seduced and abused other girls? Alternating between Vanessa’s present and the time of the affair and its aftermath, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. A masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and the far-reaching effects of abuse, this thought-provoking, impossible to put down literary debut raises vital questions about agency, power, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is a powerful and timely novel that brilliantly captures and reflects this current cultural moment and the shifting mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Publication date: 02/02/2021
  • ISBN: 9780062941510
  • Page extent: 400
  • Format: Paperback
  • Dimensions: 203 mm x 135 mm
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