My Name is Venus Black
By: Heather Lloyd
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date: 2/27/2018
My Rating: 3 Stars In this riveting, heartfelt debut, a young woman assumes a new name to escape her dark past and find the redemption she desperately seeks. “A terrific debut, told gently, honestly, and with a generous amount of hope.”—New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford
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. In this gripping story, debut novelist Heather Lloyd brilliantly captures ordinary lives thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Told through a constellation of captivating voices, My Name Is Venus Black explores the fluidity of right and wrong, the pain of betrayal, and the meaning of love and family.
“Moving . . . [Lloyd] adroitly brings the resilient Venus to life. . . . A satisfying tale about family, forgiveness, and moving on.”—Publishers Weekly “It’s impossible not to root for this strong, willful girl as she finds her place in the world and for her brother as he tries to make sense of it. A badass bildungsroman.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Lloyd’s debut novel is charming, touching. . . . Lloyd’s extraordinary plot is grounded in the complex, palpable emotions she exacts from her beautifully realized, heartwarming characters. A culminating series of reunions illuminate their richness and humanity as they confront guilt, blame, and forgiveness. Lloyd’s vivid, superbly crafted novel will have wide appeal.”—Booklist “Lloyd has created a raw, rich character, who won me over completely. Her search for peace and belonging is utterly riveting.”—Amanda Eyre Ward “Venus is the star of this story, but I also fell in love with all the other characters, many of whom do all the wrong things for all the right reasons. Book groups will want to dive into the novel’s complex, moral dilemmas.”—Anna Whiston Donaldson “A timely, must-read novel that you won’t be able to put down! With the compassion of a ragtag community that ultimately embraces them, the characters work to discover the redemptive power of love in their lives. My Name Is Venus Black will make us rethink what we think we know about family, community, and our responsibilities to each other.”—Jonis Agee, bestselling author of The River Wife “A dark but ultimately uplifting story about family, love, and forgiveness, and how to find your place in the world.”—Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Violets of March
About the Author
A bit about me. I’ve worked as an editor for more than twenty years and have authored, or collaborated on, a bunch of non-fiction books (under my married name). Venus is my first novel and I’m working on a second. Fiction is my new love and I may never write a “true” book again! My husband and I have four adult children who live in Oregon, and one who is gone but still near in spirit (we miss you, Noah).
Three years ago, Dave and I moved from Colorado to New York City, which was quite a culture shock, not the least of which has been the size of our apartment. Think postage stamp. But we love it here. We enjoy walking or riding bikes around Central Park. We like to do dinner and an Indie movie with friends, the occasional play, and on those hot and humid evenings of summer, head down to the truck vendor at the corner for soft ice cream. I love reading novels, of course, and meeting friends over coffee, and the bad habit I love most is watching dumb TV to help me wind down before bed.
I kind of, sort of, like walking my dog, Henri–except in winter when he hides under the couch as soon as I grab the leash. Problem is, he’s pretty sure I’ll make him wear his cute little coat in front of all the other dogs in Midtown (so embarrassing!). Why can’t he see they’re all wearing silly coats, too?
A bit about how Venus came to be. One morning I heard a girl’s voice in my head. She sounded really scared. And really angry. She had places to go, people to see–and I soon realized, a crime to commit. Clearly, she expected me to follow her around, listen to her talk, get it all down, and most importantly, get it right.