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In this riveting, heartfelt debut, a young woman assumes a new name to escape her dark past and find the redemption she desperately seeks.
“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.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Charming, touching, and a host of other adjectives not often associated with a murderous thirteen-year-old.”—Booklist
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.
Praise for My Name Is Venus Black
“Fans of realistic coming-of-age fiction will enjoy Lloyd’s fast-paced first novel for the freshly drawn original characters, compelling story line, and beautiful tribute to the healing power of love. It’s bound to have crossover appeal to older YA readers.”—Library Journal
“A dark but ultimately uplifting story about family, love, and forgiveness, and how to find your place in the world, My Name Is Venus Black is a powerful debut novel from a fresh voice in fiction.”—New York Times bestselling author Sarah Jio
Lloyd's moving debut explores the reverberations of a crime and its aftermath for a teen girl and her family. Venus Black is 13 years old, a seemingly normal teen and good student, when she shoots and kills her stepfather Raymond and is sent to prison. Venus won't talk about why she committed the crime. Shortly after, her developmentally disabled little brother, Leo, to whom she is very close, goes missing. In 1986, at 19, Venus is released, and she's desperate to start over. Taking a new name, she makes a life for herself in Seattle, attracting the eye of a local cop, Danny, and befriending her landlord's nine-year-old niece, Piper, but thoughts of Leo still haunt her. Not knowing whether he's alive or dead is excruciating, and her overbearing mother, Inez, desperately wants to make amends for the events that led to the shooting. Just as Venus gets settled, information comes to light about Leo's disappearance that threatens her delicately balanced new life. Lloyd portrays Leo sensitively and adroitly brings the resilient Venus to life, but the narrative is marred at times by clunky prose and too-neat solutions. Still, this is a satisfying tale about family, forgiveness, and moving on, and will have crossover appeal for older teens.