Cover Image: Valentine

Valentine

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Member Reviews

This was one of the best books that I have ever read.  

The description does not do it justice.  I thought it was about a young girl getting raped, which is not something I normally read, but several people on Bookstagram were recommending it and saying it was not about a rape.  I am so glad I read it.

This book is about women's roles in the 1976 and now.  It's about women in a crappy Texas oil town who find strength to rise above the norm and confront issues.  It's about a young girl, abandoned by her mother, who befriends a young man who is also lost.

It's a beautiful story!
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Ugh! I'm bummed that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted. The structure was disjointed, way too many POV's and I think the worst part is we have a minority victim that is traumatized for life by a white man and in the end all he gets is a slap on the wrist, like, OK, that's it? Not rating this one.

Thank you, Harper for the gifted copy
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Valentine is a heartbreaking debut novel that you won't be able to put down. It follows the assault of a young girl in a West Texas community and how the community responds to what happened. The description of the scenery is so vivid that you will feel like you are there. I am looking forward to more books by this author in the future!
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I read this book on the recommendation of Jenna Bush Hager.  I loved the setting.  The dry isolated east Texas area was perfectly drawn for this book.  The hopelessness of life here was a feeling that over shadowed every action in the novel.  Although a cliche, the cheerleaders got pregnant and dropped out.  The football players best days were in high school with a steady decline afterwards.  It was a depressing story of many levels.  The racism against the hispanic people in the city was rampant.  The poor got poorer and families were torn apart for not being part of 'herd" mentality.  It was not a easy book to read, but provided much material for consideration.
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Valentine is set in the mid 70’s in Odessa, Texas.  Wetmore’s rich descriptive style will have the reader wiping sweat from their brow and swearing they can feel the West Texas grit between their teeth. West Texas is a major character in this debut novel. Glory, a 14 year old Mexican girl, is raped by a local preacher’s son on Valentine’s Day, and as the community reacts to the crime, we are introduced to several fascinating characters, among them, D.A., a resilient, but motherless nine years old. D.A.’s well- formed character reminded me of Scout from to Kill A Mockingbird. It’s no easy thing to portray a child with such depth and skill.  The cast of characters is unforgettable and the novel unputdownable...simply one of the best novels I think I’ve ever read. Don’t miss this one!
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So much love for this book. Hard to believe it is a debut novel as the writing is perfectly sublime.
1970's in Odessa, Texas. The landscape is hard and barren. It's Valentine's Day and 14 year old Gloria gets into a car with a violent young man and is brutally attacked. She finds her way to the porch of Mary Rose, who, at the peril of her own children, takes her in and calls the Sheriff. Chapters move back and forth between several different women in the community. It offers a glimpse into the complicated space that both women and Mexicans occupied in Texas in the 70’s. It’s a wonderful glimpse into the strength of women, female friendship, and a hardscrabble life. 

#Valentine #NetGalley
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The year is 1976 and the setting is Odessa, Texas in a time when oil is being discovered in the dry desert area outside of the town. Because of the oil boom, the area and the town has become very male dominated and a little rough around the edges. Many workers of Mexican descent have also come to the town and racial prejudice has come to the town along with them. 

It happens that the book begins on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, it is a day that does not bring good memories of love and kindness but instead it is to be remembered for the brutality and shame that fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramirez suffers when she is attacked and assaulted in the oil patch by a young man who works for the oil company. This incident, its aftermath and how it affects the town and its people form the plot of this introspective novel. 

The book is very character centered. The story is related through the eyes of the some of Odessa’s female population. It is a symbolical story about how the male centered environment of the oil town affects the lives of the women who live there. The female characters are of varying ages. Those ages range from ten-year-old Debra Ann to the elderly Corinne who has recently lost her husband. Also included are Gloria and Mary Rose who helps Gloria when she comes to her door seeking assistance on the morning following the Valentine’s Day attack.

The author brings the setting’s time and place into reality through the detailed descriptions of the hot, dry and dusty Texas town with the 70’s perspective by interweaving these facts into the narrative chapters of each of the characters. In doing so, the author writes a story that provides the reader with a powerful and stifling plot that is akin to the book’s setting. 

It is not a quick or easy read for there is a sadness that permeates the story. It is about women and it is about discrimination and it is about hatred. But it is also about forgiveness and, fortunately, there is eventually hope in the good things that the women in the book are able to achieve in spite of their given circumstances. 

Plan to be slowly and fully absorbed into this debut novel with its thought-provoking study of a handful of women in a time and place that are very expertly captured by its author. 

This review has been written from the ARC Ebook thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.
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I think a lot of people will love this novel. I liked it but I also have some concerns.  This novel is about the brutal rape of 14 year old Gloria Ramirez, in Odessa Texas. The novel is told through multiple POV's, with a different woman from Odessa narrating each chapter.  The rape victim, Gloria Ramirez, is the narrator of the first chapter of the novel and the last chapter of the novel and here is wherein the problem lies.  Because Gloria only serves as the narrator as two chapters, the rape and her story get lost amongst the other women's stories of the novel. It devalues her story and minimizes what has happened to her.  If the other women's stories had been more intertwined with Gloria's story, then it would have kept the central problem at the forefront. But instead we get scattered stories of white women in Odessa and the stories of their lives. The story doesn't meld well together and silences the voice of a first generation Mexican teenager. I don't think this was the goal but this was how it came across.
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Typically, I steer away from books that are overly "hyped", however my friend told me that I HAD to read this, so I did.. and I am so, so glad that I did. 

The writing in this novel was beautiful. Wetmore has a particularly woesome and lovely way with words. The plot was a difficult plot, but Wetmore handled these issues with grace . Some of the issues that were dealt with include gender equality, violence toward women, and race. Wetmore delved into this topics with honesty and empathy. It was a haunting read and one that I will never, ever forget.

This would be an exceptional pick for bookclub. Highly, Highly recommended. I would give it more than 5 stars if I could. This will end up being in my top books of 2020.
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This was a really wonderful book.  It was difficult to read (because of the subject matter), but it is so well-written and layered.  The characters are genuine and their struggles are sad and desperate, but there are glimpses of hope as well,  The book does a great job depicting 1970s Middle America and attitudes towards women at the time.  I will be recommending this to friends and look forward to the next book by this author.
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This had great promise and started out by grabbing you by the throat. Then...it just wandered. A lot. All over. It loosely came together, but too loosely and not in a particularly satisfying manner. I felt there was far too much “in the middle” and the ending was rushed and anticlimactic.
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To Say Goodbye. This was an interesting story that starts out in the aftermath of a brutal rape... and never really gets any lighter. A dark look at West Texas in the oil boom of the late 70s, this is one of those tales where you're looking from several different perspectives - each chapter is labeled not by number, but from the view it is focusing on - to get a view into a large swath of the bigger picture through individuals' thoughts. The ending gets a bit wonky, with one perspective in particular thrown in for seemingly no real reason (though it does give a bit of a coda to one particular plot point, but spends far too much time doing things other than this), but the final few lines are an appropriate ending, and honestly better than some of the foreboding foreshadowing that preceded it. Very much recommended.
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I picked this book to read because it was the Today Show book club pick by Jenna. It sounded interesting but it just didn’t work for me. There were too many characters to keep track of and the story seemed disjointed to me. Based on the great reviews by others it may just not be a good fit for my tastes. Sorry, but I did not finish. #Valentine #ElizabethWetmore #NetGalley
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Valentine may be one of the most haunting and memorable books I’ve read in some time. It packs a huge punch yet is unnervingly hard to describe the plot. Honestly, sharing that a book is about a young girl that is brutally raped and the aftermath that follows, really wouldn’t make me run out to read it. I’m here to negate those thoughts. This is a book full of grit and hardship, love and kindness, justice and vengeance.

This story is told in alternating points of view by different women in the town. Each one made my heart ache as all of them lived a rough existence in a place where women were second class citizens. Although the spark for the plot is the rape, this is the perfect example of a character driven book. Complicated, marginalized and lonely women who wanted more for themselves and their daughters are stricken after Glory’s rape. Their coping mechanisms are vast: protection mode, despair, disappearance,  befriending, moving, racist innuendo, drinking and avoidance are all at play.

Odessa, Texas is its own character. The land has beat up the townspeople with its reliance on weather, oil and cows. The land can provide, but when it can’t, well, it turns people into their worst selves. It breeds a continued chain of bigotry, blame, chauvinism and anger. Because of the rich descriptions, I learned many new words about land and nature: screwworms, pumpjack, caliche, silage, bobwhite and kestrels.

There is parallel story about a young girl who befriends a young man, sent home from military service. Their relationship was one that kept you on edge as its innocence could turn ugly at any moment. The goodness and purity of this girl wanting to help someone else was a reminder that kids are born without prejudices or predilections. It’s a learned behavior – one ever present in Odessa.

I still can’t believe this was a debut novel. The writing was evocative and descriptive. No sentence went to waste. It brought this story to live. Kudos!

Quotes I liked:Without doubt, Valentine is a sucker punch to the gut. I dare any woman from any race, political affiliation or religion to not feel for these women. Their collective want for justice, for women's rights, for safety and for change. Each woman narrator tells her story, each moving and aching with despair, yet completely different from one another. This book brings us to Odessa and treats the land as a fully developed character, gritty, rough. and unforgiving.
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It’s hard to believe this is Ms. Wetmore’s first novel. Told from the point of view of several women living in the oil country of west Texas in the mid-70’s, all of the women are flawed in one way or another, and yet as we hear them tell their story, we understand why. From a young Mexican girl who has been raped, to women who had to leave high school because of pregnancy, to a drunk old woman who, they lay their feelings right out there. But its D.A., the 8 year old whose mother left her has the most poignant story and at the end I have the most hope for her and found her to be the bravest of all. And even in a less hostile climate and the arid region around Odessa Texas, it makes me realize that most likely my neighbors are presenting public faces that don’t mirror struggles they are going through.  I still don’t understand why it is called Valentine. A man called a woman Valentine, and a reference is made by one of the women about something that happened on Valentines Day, but that’s all I saw.
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Amazing that this is a first novel. The setting - both time and place - was vivid. The characters were all complex, realistic, and flawed. The intertwining stories of these West Texas women were at time depressing, but always captivating.
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A Mexican girl gets in a stranger's car in a small oil town in Texas in the 1970's. What happens next redefines the women and captures the cusp of feminist evolution. Some women will progress while others will not. Strong characters, memorable, where the bad guys are bad and the good guys mean well.  A slow telling that addresses violence against women, immigration and discrimination.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley.
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I really enjoyed this story of 5 women in the 60s in Texas. Immediately upon starting it, I felt like it would be similar to We Are Called to Rise (which I loved) and in the end I'm thankful for their differences. The focus of this story is really the women - the men who play a part are very one dimensional. I can see why Jenna Bush chose it and think it will find a wide readership, loved her writing.
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You know that pleasant feeling you get when you start reading a new book and you realize the writing is just plain great. That’s the first thing that stands out with Elizabeth Wetmore’s wonderful debut, Valentine. I highlighted passage after passage as she painted vivid images of the dry West Texas landscape, and the rawness of life there, especially for women.

“The sky turns purple in the east, then blue-black, then old-bucket slate. In a few minutes it will be stained orange and red, and if she looks, Gloria will see the land stretched tight beneath the sky, brown stitched to blue, same as always.”

Valentine opens just after a brutal crime, the rape of a 14-year old girl. Glory wakes in an oil field, terrified that the man responsible, sleeping it off in his truck, will awaken. Beaten, battered and shoeless, Glory walks through the desolate terrain, to the only help she can see, a house far off on the horizon. In that house is Mary Rose, the pregnant mom of a 9-year old daughter. She’s both horrified and indignant when she answers the door and sees Glory on her front porch, immediately understanding what has happened.

“I used to believe a person could teach herself to be merciful if she tried hard enough to walk in somebody else’s shoes, if she was willing to do the hard work of imagining the heart and mind of a thief, say, or a murderer, or a man who drove a fourteen-year old girl out into an oil patch and spent the night raping her….Maybe, but mercy is hard in a place like this. I wished him dead before I ever saw his face.”

I loved Mary Rose, just one of the many women, Wetmore used in telling her story. To be clear, Valentine is about much more than the rape of a young teen. It’s about West Texas in 1976, in the middle of an oil boom. It’s about how desolate that place was and how little it had to offer for women. It’s about standing up, finding a voice, being afraid, reaching out for others, and so much more. Wetmore skillfully crafted a community of women, from girls to widows, who gave voice to the struggles, determination, and hope of the women of Odessa. My sole critique would be that I thought the narratives in the last two chapters lost a little steam. Never-the-less this is a remarkable debut and I look forward to reading more from Wetmore. 

“None of the girls have ever seen a grown woman cry this hard, not even at a funeral, and they are all too young to recognize it as rage. They are, simply, afraid.”

Note: I received a copy of this book from Harper (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review.
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Valentine is a truly dark tale.  It centers around one character and her awful assault.  We experience that from the POV of multiple characters and their connection to the crime.  I found it disjointed.  It wasn't hard to follow but it was hard to really get in to.  And what the hell is wrong with quotation marks?  Seriously.  They serve a purpose.
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