‘My Dark Vanessa’: Waiting for it? Loved it? Try these titles!

By Collection Management Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

I love how much our community uses the library. Sometimes that means waiting for the hottest titles. Don’t fret! I can help you find a similar reading experience to THAT book you are waiting for or that you finally read and loved. 

You can find all of the title suggestions below available in your digital library through Media on Demand & Libby and/or Hoopla.

My Dark Vanessa read-alikes

My Dark Vanessa, like all the titles on this list, centers on unethical and predatory relationships between teachers or mentors and their students.


Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Why you should try it: This National Book Award-winning novel centers a relationship between two people of the same age, but with the interference of their theatre teacher.

Description: Falling in love while attending a competitive 1980s performing arts high school, David and Sarah rise through the ranks before the realities of their family dynamics and economic statuses trigger a spiral that impacts their adult lives.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook & digital audiobook)

The Dying Animal by Philip Roth

Why you should try it: Both of these novels are steeped in intensity of feeling, giving a palpable edge to the storytelling.

Description: A prominent TV culture critic and lecturer, sixty-plus David Kepesh finds his world thrown into erotic turmoil by Consuela Castillo, a twenty-four-year-old beauty who ignites in him a sexual possessiveness, unreasoning jealousy, and obsessive passion.

Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook)

What Was She Thinking: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

Why you should try it: Both novels feature the illicit relationship coming to light. However, instead of the now-adult student defending the teacher, it is another teacher. It was made into a movie starring Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett.

Description: When her new friend and co-worker, Sheba Hart, begins a passionate affair with a male student, school teacher Barbara Covett decides to defend Sheba and unknowingly reveals secrets they both hide.

Stream & download with: Hoopla (digital audiobook), Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

Why you should try it: Like My Dark Vanessa, this story is told through weaving the past and present into a seamless narrative of trauma and potential healing.

Description: A debut novel follows a young ballerina of rare talent whose life is upended when she falls in love with her much-older mentor. A professor of dance at a Midwestern college who has a risky affair with a student that threatens to destroy everything she has worked so hard for. 

Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook), Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)

Juno’s Swans by Tamsen Wolff

Why you should try it: This novel focuses more on the student than the illicit relationships and explores how these relationships can become open secrets. It also features a searing description of one’s first heartbreak that leaves readers aching.

Description: Nina spends the summer before her senior year of high school on Cape Cod where she takes an acting course, grows distant from her best friend, has a relationship with a teaching assistant, and begins her journey toward adulthood.

Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook)

Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

About Dontaná

Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.  

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