Release Date: March 10, 2020
Format: Paperback ARC
Rating: 3 bookmarks
Synopsis: 2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this 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? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?
This book clearly isn't for those that are triggered by sexual and mental abuse stories. Within the abuse, predatory behavior and grooming are all part of this story and its serious business. The teacher, Strane, is a master manipulator. I believe that a minor can not give consent. Period. This story really emphasized how I feel on this topic. On the flip side, some of the scenes that I really liked were with Vanessa and Ruby the therapist. Ruby was really trying to get Vanessa to see how she was really affected by Strane's actions and that she was not responsible for a grown man's actions.
Author Kate Elizabeth Russel stated in an interview that one of the things she wanted to take away from this book was a conversation. That she has achieved. Two of my book clubs have this book slated to discuss over the next 2 months, and I have a very strong feeling that this book will yield lots of conversation and debate. There are black and white lines as far as right and wrong, as well as a bit of grey, which I can imagine there will be opposing opinions on.
This book was informative, disturbing, upsetting...and a bit too long. Overall, this was an important story to tell, but I found Vanessa's story exhausting.