My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd
Venus Black gets straight As, has never gotten drunk, smoked pot, or skipped a class. She’s also a 13-year-old murderer, sent to juvenile lock-up for shooting her stepfather. Within days, her younger half-brother Leo – “[he] has what [their mother] Inez calls ‘developmental issues’” – disappears.
Five-and-a-half years later, Venus is living in Seattle with a new identity she adopted from a stolen driver’s license, working in a diner, and caring for her landlord’s feisty niece – who triggers Venus’s longing for still-missing Leo. Two states away, Leo has settled – not without significant challenges – with Tony and his daughter Tessa, to whom he was abandoned by his frustrated kidnapper. In order to move forward, Venus must face what happened that violent February 1980 night, confront her estranged mother, and find her lost brother.
Alex McKenna commands Venus’s story with controlled energy, her raspy, emotive voice ideal for a teenager facing formidable situations. Cassandra Campbell stretches her range narrating the non-Venus chapters, giving voice to Leo, his kidnapper, his new family; her aural efficacy proves mixed with not particularly distinguishable characterizations. Given this uneven audio adaptation, reader may choose to just stick to the page.
Readers: Young Adult