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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

Setting: Washington/California
Genre: Teen Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Author: Heather Lloyd
Release Date: February 27, 2018



My Name is Venus Black is one of those books where the cover art grabbed me. I'm glad it did. It's not a shocking book, but it's one where I really grew to like the heroine.

Venus Black is just 13 when she commits a crime and winds up serving six years. It's hard to believe that the quiet, studious girl would do something of this nature. She's pretty sure her teachers would never believe their exceptional student would be guilty of anything that could lead to such devastation. It does and she's charged and sentenced. Not long into her incarceration, her younger brother, a boy with special needs, vanishes. Despite the police's best efforts, they're unable to find him.

Six years pass. Venus is released and given the chance to start a new life. She changes her name and finds a job in Seattle where she hopes to start anew. There's a young man showing a clear interest in her. She also finds herself becoming a mother figure to a troubled young girl. Through all of this, thoughts of her brother don't quiet down. She starts to wonder if it's possible to start over without going back to the day her life completely changed.

There are things you need to know about My Name is Venus Black. It's set in the 1980s. This is a time before cell phones, computers for the most part, and the internet. When you remember this, it becomes very clear why Venus had to do things in certain ways. My dad's position at IBM put a computer in our home, and most of my friends would flock to our house because we had a home computer. You have to remember this as Venus starts exploring her brother's disappearance.

When Venus goes out to find a place to live, you might wonder why a girl is playing by herself on the streets without any parental supervision. Again, back then this was normal. From the time we could ride bikes, my friends and I would go as far as a half mile away to shop at the local corner store or play on the school playground. It wasn't that big an issue yet. Most moms stayed home while the dads worked. No matter where I happened to be, I knew someone's mom was watching me and reporting back to my mom if I misbehaved.

This is what made My Name is Venus Black so honest. The time frame was created to clearly match the attitudes of that era. Venus is flawed, but she tries to make herself better. Her crime is left up to you to decide what happened. Only at the very end is the truth revealed.

Are there parts where I felt things fell together too easily? Oh, yes. That, however, never stopped me from really enjoying this story.

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