Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, via NetGalley. Opinions conveyed are my own.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.1 John 4:7
I originally planned to quote 2 Cor. 5:17, which is also about rebirth. However, I selected this verse because of the emphasis on love as a result of rebirth, which we see demonstrated in the book.
As a note: the rebirth in the book is not directly attributed to Jesus, but the symbolism does underline the point being made.
Venus Sings the Blues is a deeply meaningful novel, which reads more as an allegory or parable to me, since there aren’t a lot of overt religious references. By this, I mean that references go deeper than a surface level conversation or two. There’s much more to plumb, here. The Christian message clearly comes through in the plot and symbolism, making for a thoughtful, textured narrative. The book is so hopeful, with a strong message of redemption.
Because the book isn’t preachy, it’s a fantastic choice for nonChristians, as well as Christians. This is a beautiful story that I want readers of different backgrounds to read. It’s a deeply truthful novel that strikes the core of the Gospel. I would describe it as invitational– rather than relaying the Gospel through Scripture, as many authors do, Storm is spreading the fragrance of Christ in a more subtle way, but a way that I believe could provoke yearning in nonChristians. This is a book I can really see the Lord using.
What I Liked
Most books are, for me, ultimately carried by the plot. While I certainly notice whether or not the plot is presented well (in terms of the style and fluidity of the writing), I’m typically reading to find out what will happen next.
That wasn’t so much the case for me with Venus Sings the Blues. At least not at first (though the disappearing box certainly captured my attention). Storm’s writing was, in my opinion, stunning. I liked the dedication so much (talk about powerful!) that I read it aloud to my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese. (The Lord has gifted my mom with incredible talent and she definitely sets a high bar for strong writing; Storm’s writing does remind me of my mom’s).
Each word felt deliberate and well-placed. In contrast with many books I read, in which there are just a few particularly striking sentences scattered throughout, the majority of Storm’s sentences proved richly insightful. On both large and small scales, the book felt especially true to life. The author’s descriptions and observations so clearly reflect and capture what it means to be alive. Storm’s writing is, in my opinion, exactly what storytelling should be.
Along this line, the characters were so well-developed (and I want the word “so” to carry a lot of weight in this sentence, because I often mention character development, but Storm’s writing stands out in this respect). Each character had a distinctive voice, and I was impressed that both female and male characters were written so realistically. I also found myself liking characters that I hadn’t liked at first, as I got to know them better. Storm’s cast was so true-to-life. These are people that readers not only could meet, but probably have met.
And the most beautiful thing about these realistic characters is that they’re not necessarily the people I would like much, on a first meeting. But Storm’s narrative, in inviting me to know the characters, is also an invitation to recognize the dignity in the people I meet every day–even beyond the pages of the book. For me, this “invitation,” was one of the most powerful parts of the reading experience.
There’s also a deeply profound moment I completely forgot about until I was looking through my bookmarks. It’s really telling, in my opinion, that I was able to forget about my favorite part, while writing this review, because the writing itself merits so much attention.
Venus Sings the Blues doesn’t have a lot in the way of “content,” as I would usually note it. There were maybe two or so uses of the Lord’s name, plus references to an affair. Romantic content is very light– not at all central to the plot.
There was a lot of smoking and drinking, but I really felt that these elements humanized the characters. This book was so powerful, but definitely not “churchy,” and I really appreciated that. The novel strongly embraces the truth that Jesus came to save people who needed saving, not the Pharisees who thought they had it all together.
With that said, I would categorize this title for adults or mature readers. I could absolutely imagine it being used in a high school lit class. There is so much meaning to unpack, within the text, between the richly packed sentences and plotline.
Venus Sings the Blues captured my interest on NetGalley and (even though I wasn’t really in the market for another book to review at the time), held onto it. I believe that the Lord put it on my heart and it was such a blessing to read!
This was my first time reading a book by Buck Storm, but, based on this novel, I am very eager to read more. While one book isn’t a huge sample, I feel that Buck Storm is going up there with Ted Dekker for me (in terms of favorite authors, although they do have similar styles). The writing is so rich, so meaningful– an exemplar of literary excellence.