Boy this was a difficult book to read. With LOLITA, a book that is similar in story but from the POV of Humbert Humbert, the predator not the victim, we are able to maintain a certain distance. With MY DARK VANESSA (Kate Elizabeth Russell), we have a sexually- abused fifteen year old to take us through the tale. And guess what? For 300 plus pages she is convinced she was not abused by her English teacher. That she longed for this man almost 30 years her senior. And the book is so hyper-focused on this relationship and a similar one that follows, there is no air to breathe. Literally, it left me feeling breathless with dread.
This is a well-written novel. And it is an interesting take on pedophilia. What if the child seems as obsessed with her seducer as he is with her? Is she culpable if she wants him to worship her? If he is the only thing on her mind for 20 years.
I don't think so. I think the author has to look at the possibility of mental illness more if this is the story. There is literally not a page in this book when the narrator is not pondering this man. Her parents are fairly aloof but not abusive or bad enough to produce a child this obsessed. This obsession completely derails her life. At 32, she, a promising student at age 15 and even 20, works at a dead end job. I need to talk to her therapist. I need an explanation of why this middle-aged man so completely subsumed her. So I can't recommend it despite it being extremely polished and somewhat interesting.
For more and hopefully happier books, see Barrie Summy.