My Name Is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd is a thought provoking story of how a young girl commits a horrible crime and yet in so many ways is innocent. The story is told from two points of view. First and foremost Venus and then secondary by Tessa. At the heart, the story is about family, love and forgiveness.
Venus Black is just thirteen when she is convicted of killing her stepfather. She escapes being tried as an adult – barely. She is sent to a juvenile correction facility to serve her six year sentence. Her brother Leo, a high functioning, autistic child, is kidnapped just days after the crime. He is never found. Once Venus serves her time and is released, she wants two things. First, to start over with a new identity. Second, to find her brother.
Unbeknownst to Venus, a young girl, Tessa, and her father have found and taken in Leo. They have raised him as their own. They have nurtured Leo and he has come to love them as much as they love him. You can imagine what happens when the two worlds collide.
The author did a fabulous job with the character of Venus. There was a lot of depth to her and I empathized with her despite the terrible crime she committed. I also liked Tessa. She was an outstanding supporting character and I found her to be rather profound for her age. No doubt this is what the author intended. Another thing I liked about the story, you do not know exactly why Venus killed her stepfather until the end and the suspense was one of the things that made me want to keep turning the page, even after bedtime.
The pace of the plot could not have been better. It never felt rushed at all. The only qualm I had was with the ending. It came together in this nice, neat, little package and that just does not happen in real life. On the flip side, I get that readers want a story that is all tidy in the end. Regardless, the story was well executed and I look forward to more from this author.
The story brings up a lot of difficult issues. For example, how does the justice system handle crimes committed by children? Where does the system fail in helping children like Venus? What does it mean to forgive someone or yourself? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind. Because of this, My Name Is Venus Black would make an excellent book club pick.
I received an ARC, from the publisher, via Library Thing’s early reviewer program. Thank you!
For more of my reviews, and author interviews, see my book blog at www.thespineview.com.