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KDL Blog

What to Read Next: My Dark Vanessa

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One of 2020’s most highly anticipated and controversial novels, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural traditions transforming our relationships and society itself. In this fictional story that often reads like a memoir, Vanessa struggles to choose between her romantic teen illusions and harrowing adult perceptions when she is asked to help defend an older high-school English teacher with whom she had an affair at age 15. Whether you’ve already completed this quarantine read or are waiting for your digital hold to become available, consider checking out the following titles.

Another compelling and psychological book gaining buzz in the time of the #MeToo movement is Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women. For nearly a decade, Taddeo used her award-winning journalism skills to embed herself with three ordinary women in order to write this deeply immersive account of their erotic lives and longings. It is a groundbreaking portrait of desire in today’s America, and it exposes the complexity and inequality of female longing with depth and emotional power. 

Therese Anne Fowler’s A Good Neighborhood gives readers another gripping and psychological story to follow along with. This contemporary novel examines the American dream through the lens of two very different families living side by side in an idyllic neighborhood. One summer is all it takes to change their lives irrevocably. Told in multiple points of view, the novel asks big questions -- what does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye? -- as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in this provocative and powerful story. 

If you’re looking for something even more suspenseful along these lines, you might find yourself intrigued by Anna Burns’s’ Milkman. In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. Like, she reads while walking. When a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes interesting--the last thing she ever wanted to be. Rumors spread and the threat of violence looms as middle sister attempts to avoid milkman. Centered on the Irish Troubles, this novel is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive.

Finally, for the animal lovers, you might find The Friend by Sigrid Nunez to be a more uplifting story within the #MeToo movement theme. It is the story of a woman who loses her lifelong best friend and mentor and is left with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog -- a huge Great Dane traumatized by the disappearance of its male master --- and by the threat of eviction. Though dogs are prohibited in her apartment building, she refuses to abandon and give up on her new friend. This is a moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. 

Check out the recommendations page for even more great reading suggestions specially curated by our librarians!