Author: Heather Lloyd
Genres: fiction, crime fiction, new adult, bildungsroman
Published: February 27, 2018 | Dial Press
Length: 368 pages
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"Venus Black is a straitlaced A student fascinated by the study of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, goes missing. More than five years later, Venus is released from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her beloved brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start in Seattle, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past."
First, a huge thank you to the Dial Press (Penguin Random House) for providing an advance copy in exchange for my review.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading My Name is Venus Black.
Venus and Leo are characters who will stick with me for a long time, and their parallel stories both broke my heart and mended it all at once. Lloyd's writing style is simplistic, which helped make this novel a quick read. The chapters are longer than I had anticipated, but once I was settled in and reading, I didn't want to put the book down.
“I wash my hands, and then for some reason I catch my own eye in the mirror. Not the usual way, to check my appearance - but I look into my face to wonder who this woman really is and why she’s on the planet.”
— My Name is Venus Black, page 118
Venus's crime happens at the beginning of the novel and there are many hints as to what exactly transpired, but you have to wait until the end to get the details. I have but one peeve with MNiVB; the language surrounding Leo and the descriptions of his disability (assumed to be a form of autism) can been a bit disheartening. Lloyd's explanation is that she intended to be true to the times (1980s) and true to the voices of the characters. I understand this intention completely but it does not change the fact that, occasionally, I hurt for Leo more than necessary.
Overall, I rooted for the characters and enjoyed following the twisty labrynth of Venus's path toward self-discovery.