A Novel

Book - 2020 | First edition.
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"Written with the haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout and Barbara Kingsolver, an astonishing debut novel that explores the lingering effects of a brutal crime on the women of one small Texas oil town in the 1970s. It's February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town's men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow. In the early hours of the morning after Valentine's Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead's ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field--an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences. Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race, class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear, yet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader's heart, this fierce, unflinching, and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women's strength and vulnerability, and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive."--Jacket flap.
Publisher: [New York] : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062913265
Characteristics: 308 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

It's February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town's men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.

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Feb 18, 2021

This haunting, sparely written novel explores the lives of 5 women in 1976 Odessa, Texas. Opening with the brutal rape of 14-year-old Gloria Ramirez by an oil rig worker, the novel explores the crime's aftermath on the small community. While the men are rejoicing at the coming prosperity of an oil boom, the women are braced for another wave of violence in their isolated part of Texas. The author deftly draws her characters, including their back stories, while following the events of one long, hot summer. You can almost taste and feel the dust, sand, and grit as you follow the story. Wetmore celebrates the strength, grit, and sheer determination of women who must navigate the hard circumstances of their lives. Although set nearly 80 years later, this novel reminded me of Jonis Agee's The Bones of Paradise as both books portray a very unromanticized picture of the American West.

Feb 08, 2021

Very atmospheric and evocative. The type of novel where the land itself sets the stage for all characters and all circumstances. Valentine is the first published novel by Elizabeth Wetmore, a West Texas native herself. The Book is set in Odessa, TX in 1976 in the midst of the oil boom. The desert terrain is hardscrabble enough, but with the addition of drifters and transplants looking for jobs in the oil fields, the setting becomes even more heated and dangerous. The author aims her focus on the lives of the women, rather than the men, who make up the town of Odessa. Each of the women's voices and circumstances are unique, but the reader gets the general feeling that all of the women are struggling to survive. There are teenage mothers, a young Mexican teenager who is raped and proceeds to walk across the desert barefoot searching for help, and many more. My only critique is that the book is disjointed at times, each chapter serving as the voice of a separate woman. If you like Annie Proulx's novels, definitely give Valentine a try.

Jan 18, 2021

I liked it but felt it wasn't as focused as it could have been. It started so strong, a young teenager accepts a ride from a good looking & charming stranger. From that moment on, her life will never be the same because of the violence that he proceeds to inflict on her. In the morning she goes to a stranger's place for help & now that family is effected for the rest of their life as well.
The story was told from different women in the town that the crime was set in but some of those women had nothing to do with it & it didn't seem to affect them at all. For me that didn't do the story any justice. Speaking of justice....there wasn't any.

JCLJenV Jan 14, 2021

A character-driven novel with a strong sense of place - West Texas in the 1970’s. Several female characters take us along the story line each adding their own perspective.

Jan 11, 2021

A haunting novel about Odessa Texas in the 70s oil boom years. Told from the perspective of several different women who are all affected by a horrific act if violence. Their voices stayed with me for a long time after I finished that book.

Nov 25, 2020

The book begins February 15, 1976—my own birthday. A bored teenage girl accepts the invitation of a charming oil worker for a drive out to the ‘oil patch’ outside Odessa, Texas. What happens the morning after will have repercussions for months, particularly among women and girls on Larkspur Lane.

Women’s lives—hardship, anger, disappointment, resignation, resilience—are on display as their stories are told in a time when Odessa women lived in the shadow of men and the uncertainty of oil booms and busts. Fascinating stories in a gritty setting rendered impeccably by the author in this debut novel. Highly recommend.

Oct 09, 2020

This was so good. A novel that is solidly anchored in time and place and treats with such sensitivity themes that are so current and frankly global. I enjoyed this book thoroughly.

Aug 13, 2020

Told by voices of women and girls as gritty and tough as the Odessa oil fields where they live; Valentine is a tale of resilience and hope in a landscape scarred by violence, racism, class and misogyny. Elizabeth Wetmore's writing is jarring and memorable.

Jul 24, 2020

Set in Odessa, Texas in the 1970's in the midst of the oil boom, the bleak landscape, so carefully and thoroughly described, sets up for us the same bleak expectations and opportunities for the women living there. But the story, told through the lives of multiple women, reveals the incredible strength and fight they bring to the sexism, racism, and cruelty that infuses the community. There are moments that will break your heart, but there are also moments of incredible tenderness that provide hope. Very moving.

Jul 18, 2020

The story centers around the rape of teenager Gloria Ramirez, a Mexican-American living in Odessa, Texas in the 1970's. The plot moves from the event to the effects on various people in the community. We see injustice and hope in the involvement of those close to the situation.
An engaging read.

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