“My Name is Venus Black” by Heather Lloyd is the story of young Venus Black. The book begins in February 1980 on the day Venus committed a horrible, violent crime that lands her in juvenile “jail” for 5 years. We don’t know much about what Venus did, just that it had to do with her stepfather. A few days after her arrest her developmentally disabled younger brother goes missing and we follow his story a bit as he adjusts to a new life. Five years later, Venus is released from prison and sets about building a new life for herself while still trying to heal old wounds–especially when it comes to her missing brother.
I absolutely loved this book. Venus (and all the other characters) really come alive on the page and I was rooting for all of them even when they had to make tough choices that didn’t really turn out the way they expected. Leo, the developmentally disabled brother, and his storyline are so beautifully written it’s almost heart-wrenching and it really makes the reader think about the choices we make to protect the ones we care love. I also loved that so many of the characters have great insights about their world–little gems that are so perfectly said. For example, Venus says, “It seems that while I’ve spent the lsat six years going out of my way not to trigger old memories, Inez has found a way to be home among them.”
Some readers may have a problem with the fact that we don’t find out exactly what Venus did and why until the very very end of the book. For me it wasn’t a big issue because the writing was so good and because there was enough action to keep the story moving without knowing the details. Once we do get the details, they’re handled well and we truly understand what caused Venus to do what she did.
The other small issue is that the ending is pretty perfect. Some may say it’s too easy and too perfect –especially for characters who really struggled through their journey — but for me it was just right.
Thank you NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing me with an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review!
**This book will be out on Feb 27, 2018**