This stunner is hitting shelves the end of this month!
Thanks to Harper Books for the free early copy in exchange for my honest review
VALENTINE – Elizabeth Wetmore (Releasing March 31st, 2020)
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.
Mercy is hard in a place like this . . .
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.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
It’s no secret that I love historical fiction and VALENTINE by Elizabeth Wetmore is a prime example as to why. The way she sets the scene – not only the time period but our surroundings – is incredible. You are immediately transported into Odessa, Texas in 1976 during the oil boom. Men flock to the town to work in the oil fields and what follows them is violence and despair for the women in town.
Fourteen year old Glory Ramirez finds her way to Mary Rose’s front door – raped and brutally attacked near the oil fields and she is desperate for help. What follows is the aftermath of the attack and how the town reacts. The town protects the young man in question while Mary Rose is fiercely defending the poor girl. We get multiple perspectives of different women in the town: Mary Rose, Glory, a young girl names Debra Ann Pierce, a widow Corrine, and a young mother Karla.
While five perspectives may have seemed like a lot but each woman provided a vital part to the story. Varying ages, stages in life, and experiences gave us a lot to think about when it comes to how hard it was living in this town. It’s crazy to think that this was how women and girls were treated just 40 years ago and I found myself getting frustrated at the injustices that happened. This can be a hard read for some but I think the author handled it very well.
This debut was beautifully written and I’m anxious to see what Wetmore will release next. Like I had mentioned earlier, this is the perfect example as to why I love historical fiction. From page one you’re immediately transported into that town because the author created the atmosphere for the readers and went into just enough detail to keep us there. I highly recommend this to those that love the genre!