Author: Heather Lloyd
Genre: Fiction – Young Adult
My Rating: 5 Stars
About the Author: Heather Lloyd worked for many years as an editor and a writing coach. She lived in New York city with her husband. My name is Venus Black is her first and only book yet. She is currently working on her second book.
“My name is Venus Black” by Heather Lloyd is a story about a girl whose name as the title suggests is Venus Black. The book begins describing an unfortunate incident that happens in her house in 1980. Venus, at the age of 13, commits a homicide by killing her stepfather by shooting him in the head. The incident lands her in jail for more than five years even though she was a minor. The incident tears the family apart as her mother is left alone with Venus’s little brother Leo. Her mother was incapable of taking care of her developmentally challenged son after the traumatic incident. Unfortunately, after a few days of Venus’s arrest, he goes missing.
Venus doesn’t talk about why she did or what she did exactly till we find that out in the end. When she gets out of jail at the age of 19, she decides to start her life anew, by changing her identity and starts going by the name Annette. As the story progresses, Venus tries to adjusts to her new life. She makes a friend, a girl named Piper, gets a job at a bakery, and just as she is about to fall in love, she realizes that she cannot escape her past and sets out to search for her brother, Leo.
“Nothing is as it appears. It’s like that with space. Objects that look round might not be, and stars that look close to each other might be billions of miles apart. And it’s the same with people. Only instead of standing too far away to see the truth, you’re probably standing too close.”Venus Black
Venus blamed her mother, Inez for destroying her life as she wasn’t the responsible adult she should have been even when she told her about her step father. She should have listened to her daughter and taken action but she didn’t as she didn’t want to leave her husband and be alone. After her release, she remains estranged from her mother and calls her by her first name Inez. Venus eventually realizes that she has to face her past as it cannot be changed and confront the reason for the incident.
Reporters find her in hopes of getting a her side of the story, her fake identity cripples as her love for her brother, Leo, forces Venus to her Mother’s doorstep. The love she has for her brother makes the readers realize how far we can go to do everything and make tough choices to keep our loved ones safe and protected.
“When I trace my life back to make it so Inez never met or married Raymond, I always get stuck here. Because what would I do without Leo?“Venus Black
Leo’s story is described in his own point of view by the author beautifully. We follow his journey as he gets kidnapped by his uncle and tries to adjust to his new life without his sister, who was the only one who could calm him. It was heart-wrenching as little Leo tried to understand the world being mentally challenged.
The way the author described his thoughts is admirable and makes the readers aware of the people who are autistic or mentally challenged. We view the world through Leo’s eyes how some things horrified him, how the color blue can be wrong and how his understanding of certain events differ from ours.
Leo meets Tessa, a preteen and her Father, Tony who owned a tattoo shop after his uncle decides to leave him as he was unable to keep a child like Leo. Tessa and Tony tried to understand Leo and take care of him like his sister. She and her Father had compassion and empathy for the kid and loved him without even being related to him.
The book had me confused at the start but the suspense kept me going. The author built up the story in such a way that it forces it’s readers to keep on reading, to find out what happened. Not many books grab my attention and I have the tendency to leave books halfway through if they’re not making me curious, but this book and the way the author described the character’s point of views forced me to read it till the end.
The ending gave me mixed feelings. Her stepfather got what he deserved. But Venus had to go through so much as her life was destroyed by the incident. Even her brother who was mentally challenged had a rough time as the only person who loved him was taken away and then he was kidnapped by his uncle. Overall, it was a phenomenal read and the ending was perfect as Venus and Leo were reunited. I recommend it to all readers as this book will definitely not disappoint.
The book makes us realize how cruel the world can be and the evil that is present in the world. It inspires deep and needed conversations on parental responsibility, the issues of the judicial system, love, family and forgiveness.
“Never assume you can take back anything. Never assume you have time to face facts later. And never underestimate the power of a parent’s betrayal.”Heather Lloyd, My name is Venus Black
Heather Lloyd is an amazing author and I look forward to reading her next book. Hopefully the characters in her next book and the story-line will be as imaginative, thought provoking and incredible as it was in “My Name is Venus Black”.
To buy a copy of this book, click on the link below:My Name Is Venus Black: A Novel
I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. Let me know in the comments below after you’ve finished reading it.