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, one of the town's women decides to take matters into her own hands, setting the stage 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, darkly funny, 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.
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About the Author
Elizabeth Wetmore is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Baltimore Review, Crab Orchard Review, Iowa Review, and other literary journals. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, as well as a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation. She was also a Rona Jaffe Scholar in Fiction at Bread Loaf and a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony, and one of six Writers in Residence at Hedgebrook. A native of West Texas, she lives and works in Chicago.
Jenna Lamia, film actress and award-winning audiobook narrator, has won the prestigious Audie Award and more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards.
"My goodness, what a novel...Wetmore understands the nuances of the human heart better than almost any writer I've read in recent years...Every person should read this extraordinary debut."-- "Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author"
"Wetmore is a new literary powerhouse, and Valentine is quite simply one of the best books I've ever read."-- "Jeanine Cummins, author of American Dirt"
"Valentine is a beautiful book written with compassion, understanding, and deep honesty. A remarkable debut."-- "Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark"
"You'll read this book like a letter from a lost love, clutched in your hands, heart in your throat. You'll carry it with you forever."-- "Bryn Chancellor, author of Sycamore"