Posted on February 5, 2020 at 8:17 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

My Dark Vanessa, like American Dirt, was among the books critics were most eager to read in 2020.

Another common thread? Both novels are now embroiled in some sort of controversy.

My Dark Vanessa, the debut novel of Kate Elizabeth Russell, is about a relationship between a teenager and her high school teacher, who is later accused of sexual abuse by another former student years later.

Though the book isn’t out until March 10, author Wendy C. Ortiz began tweeting that it sounds an awful lot like her own memoir, Excavation, and others on Twitter began sharing their support for her, according to Vulture’s timeline of the drama.

Russell did reach out to Ortiz and acknowledge she has read Ortiz’s memoir, but notes that she read several other books about sexual abuse and that books in the genre are likely to share some elements.

This didn’t end the conversation, of course, prompting Russell to issue a statement on her website defending the book.

In part, it asserts that she’s been working on the book for nearly twenty years — and that it also draws on her own experiences as a teenager.

Russell’s publisher, notes the Bookseller, is standing by My Dark Vanessa’s originality.

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