Moms of girls... you need to read this book

I just finished My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

 Ok, Moms of girls… this is a book you need to read. And, perhaps, you may want your slightly older teens to read it also. Not only is the book beautifully written, but it also brings so much understanding to a subject that we all need to understand better so we can educate our girls better.

"I’m going to ruin you."

My Dark Vanessa is about a teacher sexually abusing a young girl. But, it is also a story about so much more than that. PTSD, trauma, culture, navigating life, understanding, confusion, parenting, silence, justifying behaviors, seduction, and manipulation.  We often believe that sexual abuse is "black and white." It is a tangible act; it happens, it can be described, and includes a predator and a victim. The book translates the tangible act of “sexual abuse” into an intoxicating story that makes you feel down to your core and within your brain how vastly more complicated abuse is. This book makes you FEEL how slowly it occurs, how exhilarating it can be, and how it often does not even feel like abuse. You understand better how Vanessa romanticizes the relationship and how predators aggressively seduce and manipulate, but in such a subtle manner (sounds contradictory, I know.) The author has a writing style that allows you to feel the wonder, joy, and excitement sitting right next to confusion, doubt, and abuse. How Kate Elizabeth Russell pulls that off is pure brilliance!

The story opens with Vanessa at the age of 15. The author skips around a bit as she tells the story, showing Vanessa at the age of fifteen, 20-something, and a young lady in her thirties. The insight, the visuals, the feelings the author can compel through her words is enthralling. Although the subject matter is disturbing (especially for a parent), and some pieces are more challenging to read than others, the book is beautifully, beautifully written. This is one of those books that you just cannot put down.

Other than just being a wonderful read, this book is especially useful for Moms or anyone raising girls. The insight gained from reading, feeling, and understanding how complicated this type of abuse is can only improve communications with your girls. The range of emotions and confusion the story delves into offers parents tools to have conversations with their girls about so many girl-related subjects and feelings, not just sexual abuse. And, we all know that when you better understand a subject matter and can relate on some level, conversations with our girls tend to be more successful, right? This story evokes so many questions. Please pick up a copy and let me know your thoughts!