“You will be uncomfortable, you will squirm, you will want to put the book down over and over (but you won’t); you might even wish to throw it across the room.
This is the mirror-version of Lolita: where Nabokov follows an unreliable Humbert, Russell follows an unreliable Vanessa. The language is pretty, the scenes often romanticized, the monstrosity of the older man, protagonist/antagonist, both crystal clear and likely to be miscategorized as a love story.
This is psychological grooming at its most adept, Vanessa’s tender, needful adolescence giving way to a shifting psyche that is both overwhelmingly claustrophobic and searingly honest.
This is what it is to be told you’re special, to assume the responsibilities that the adults and institutions around you are supposed to shoulder, to protect you from.
This is how it is to cope: the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive, the truths we face in order to live.
This is how it is.”
Similar: Excavation by Wendy Ortiz & Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Pair With: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood