My Name is Venus Black
by Heather Lloyd
Our Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars)
Reviewed by: Rachel Maggard
Set in the early 1980’s, the story begins with 13-year-old Venus Black in police custody and being charged with a violent crime against her step-father. As the reader, all you know is that she doesn’t deny the allegations, she is visibly shaken, her mother is blaming her for the incident and the police are trying to put the details together. What is even more perplexing is that Venus gets straight As, has never even received detention at school, and appears to have close friendships. You are left wondering if all is as it appears. Is Venus actually a psychopath who has been fooling everyone? Was she framed? If she really did commit the crime, as she says she has, what exactly did she do and why?
The plot has an early twist. Venus is sent to a juvenile detention center and, soon after, her mentally disabled younger brother, Leo, is reported missing. No one knows what happened to him and some even suspect that Venus may have had a hand in his disappearance. Five plus years later, 19-year-old Venus is released from prison and Leo is still declared a missing person. She immediately changes her name so that she can find a job and slowly tries to put her life back together. Venus struggles with reconciling with her mother, but after seeing Leo’s picture on a milk carton she decides to help search for him.
I really enjoyed this book. As the story unfolds, and despite the gruesome start, you are introduced to quite a few likable characters. The story takes a look at what is considered sexual harassment versus sexual abuse. It talks about missing person cases and how those have evolved over the past 40 years. And by the end, it makes you question whether Venus was justified in the crime she committed.
My Name is Venus Black was a story with many twists and turns. If you can handle a book that touches on difficult topics but would provide good discussion, give My Name is Venus Black a try. It came highly recommended to me and I was not disappointed. I don’t think you will be either.