My Name is Venus Black By Heather Lloyd

Title: My Name is Venus Black

Author: Heather Lloyd

Publisher: The Dial Press

First Published: 27th February 2018

Blurb:

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. (From Goodreads, 9th April 2019).

Review:

“My Name is Venus Black” is a novel of mystery. What happened to to cause Venus to murder? What happened to Venus’s brother? Why is her relationship with her mother so fraught?

It is also a story of readjustment, leaning how to cope in a world that you have been so removed from. Learning to look after yourself and finding a place in a world where everyone knows what you have done. But this is a story of so many different stories. So many different relationships. It tackles so many topics that are important and show the blurry lines of right and wrong.

Structurally we mainly follow Venus, and the second narrative of Venus’s brother Leo’s story. We also see things from Venus’s mothers point of view as well, and the view of the individuals who look after Leo. There is a lot of mystery and I do not want to divulge too much. This is a novel that I went into blind and I think that is possibly the best way to read this book.

“My Name is Venus Black” is fantastically constructed, with multiple stories that keep you wanting to read more. You desperately want everything to work out, but with such a complicated past is that ever possible?

If you are looking for a novel with light mystery, complex relationships, and complex moral conundrums I would recommend “My Name is Venus Black”. Go into it not knowing much and you will be glad that you did.

I really love this novel, it is fantastically constructed and extremely well written.

5 out of 5

Mockingbird By Katheryn Erskine

  Mockingbird was the winner of the American National Book Award 2010. It is a novel where we meet 11-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, who had an older brother, Devon, who was always there to explain the things that she cannot understand. Devon is gone. Killed in a tragic school shooting. Caitlin’s father is grieving and unable to give the attention his daughter needs to understand what has happened. She knows that Devon is gone, but cannot understand her fathers response. Caitlin’s school life is getting increasingly difficult, often getting sent to her support teacher after outbursts as she deals with teasing from others.
Initially I thought I would end up comparing this novel to ‘A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ but luckily that idea went away after the first chapter.
Caitlin struggles to understand emotions or recognise what emotions she herself is feeling, so dealing with her older brothers death is very different from the typical grief many of us have went through. Caitlin becomes further isolated without her brother help in explaining the social norms of school. She cannot ask her father why certain people have said certain things to her, he is absent, unable to communicate through his grief. People are saying things Caitlin does not understand.
A well written account of a young girls journey in understanding the void she possesses after her brothers tragic death, the more complex journey of a young girl with Asperger’s syndrome.
This novel stayed true, always viewing the world through Caitlin’s eyes, thus allowing the reader to view the world from the perspective of someone with Asperger’s syndrome. As a reader we can start to understand how hard it must be for those who are unable to understand emotional cues and know how to react in social situations.
However I felt the novel was a bit slow, which is its only failing in my opinion.
A heart warming story of grief and the journey in which father and daughter learn to move on from Devon’s death while always remembering him.
I will give this 3.5 out of 5