If you ask me on a normal day what I’ve been reading the answer will probably be some new self-help book everyone’s talking about – you know, I’m all about self improvement and stuff, but things got dark last week. Real dark.
I decided to read My Dark Vanessa, a book that explores the dynamics of the relationship between a naive fifteen-year-old girl and her manipulative teacher.
It’s hard to recommend a book that’s so upsetting and uncomfortable. Reading in details about a love affair between a forty-year-old teacher and a 15-year-old student is extremely discomforting, but at the same time it feels important. Whenever I’d get angry and frustrated reading the book, I’d stop and try to read it through the eyes of a teenage girl. Would I feel the same way Vanessa feels? Would I fall into the same trap? Vanessa was a regular girl, insure and self-absorbed, yes, but nothing traumatic had ever happened to her to make her an obvious victim, someone who could be so easily manipulated, which makes the story even more disturbing. Any young woman could potentially fall for a manipulative older authoritative figure and have her life destroyed.
I personally couldn’t relate to the story and I tried my best to see life through Vanessa’s perspective – and that was difficult and frustrating at times. But what this book has taught me is that we should all look out for our young girls. When I think about having a daughter and sending her to school and trying to give her the best life possible, I want to make sure I’m always there for her, always ready to listen and protect her. It’s so frightening to even think of all the awful things and people out there, but I just want to hold that girl and always make sure she’s okay and safe.
My Dark Vanessa is a hard book, but an important book. And some of it will never leave you.