Cover Image: Valentine

Valentine

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Member Reviews

From the title through the wrenching first scene to the very, very end, “Valentine” by debut novelist Elizabeth Wetmore is not what you expect. And, not matter how high your expectations, “Valentine” will exceed them all. 

West Texas 1976. Another oil boom. Jobs and money for all. People and oil flooding the flat, dry desolation. Men with everything to gain and nothing to lose. Women the collateral damage, doing what they can to keep the world going. There is rampant racism, sexism, misogyny, and injustice. There is pure evil afoot, as well. 

Ms. Wetmore is a master stylist. I don’t know much yet about Ms. Wetmore other than that she grew up in West Texas and knows her stuff. The desolation and horror of West Texas is exquisitely rendered. The characters are made unique and remarkable without extraneous description, dialogue or flourish. The stories are fully believable in all their extremes. 

With that said, I read “Valentine” at the height/depth of the “American Dirt” cultural appropriation debate which has troubled me no end. Let me assure you that Ms. Wetmore can write about men, women, white, brown, native, immigrant, powerful, and powerless. She is a wonderful talent and I will look forward to reading anything and everything that she has to follow.

Finally, God Bless Debra Anne. Her grace and kindness through extreme adversity with stay with me forever. 

Thanks to HarperCollins Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC.
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The book is set in 1976 Odessa TX
and tells a story that is almost as much about place and the impact it has on the characters as it is about the incident that launches the narrative. Told from multiple pov it is easy to see that the arid, parched land of the oil fields is representative of the barren lives these people live. 

In the opening pages of this novel the reader encounters Gloria Ramirez early one morning as she picks herself up off the dusty oil field and makes her way to a neighboring house to ask for help. The day before was Valentine’s Day and Gloria had been assaulted. Her not yet 15 year old life has been forever changed and this incident will impact all the regular folks going about their business. 

It is clear the author knows this life and these people and she draws heavily on her Texas experience to illustrate their existence. 

Thank you to @harpercollinsus for this #advancereaderscopy.
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Wow, just wow! My 1st 5 star read of the year. I am completely in awe of the magnificence of this novel. 

At times I just had to put the book down it was so stunning, only to immediately pick it up again. The story, the characters, the setting were just incredible, so well done. I highly recommend you read this novel.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Very well-written with the entire book told from the point of view of various interconnected women. While somewhat bleak, there are wonderful glimpses of hope throughout.
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Ok. So. 
This one took a little while to get into, and I almost thought I wouldn't like it. 
Something clicked with me, and I put aside my worries about keeping up with the shifting POVs, the sadness that seemed to overtake me while reading, and I just took it alllll in. Once I did that, it all came together. I was moved, felt drawn to defend characters, felt anger at others, just felt all the feels while powering through this debut masterpiece. 
Set in the 1970s - definitely a different time - and in small town Texas no less - this one opens with the alleged rape of 14 year old immigrant Gloria Ramirez, a housewife who "dares" help her, and all the neighbors in between. This book will go far this year, and I can't wait to see what else Elizabeth Wetmore gifts us with moving forward. 
What a fantastic book to start the year!
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Never finished the book, I will not be recommending.  I had forgotten that I downloaded it, and book disappeared.
Perhaps I will try it at another time.
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Yas!  Yessss!  I can't believe this is a debut novel!  This story is going to stick with me for a long time.  Truly haunting.
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FIrst of all, the cover is beautiful. I also find it hard to believe that this is a debut from this author. She writes with the grace of a seasoned author. I will be keeping Elizabeth Wetmore on my radar for the future.
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Richly drawn characters set against a West Texas backdrop — Valentine is  beautifully written, impressive first novel that tears at your heart and doesn’t let go.
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Elizabeth Wetmore puts forth an outstanding debut novel, giving the reader a provocative look at the life of small-town Texas during the late 1970’s. Her exploration is told from multiple female perspectives and offers a unique exploration of race, sexism, class, and the violence endured. The writing is as dark and as unapologetic as the town of Odessa that she has created. It draws the reader in from page one and lays claim until the very end. While Wetmore’s depiction of events is anything but demonstrative, she provides an uplifting message of formidable strength and resilience. Absolutely loved it.

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC of #Valentine, which was read and reviewed by Tarrah Marie (@wayward_readers)
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This book has a lot to say and it does not shy away from saying it. It covers rape culture, racism, sexism, grief, the immigration system, and judicial system which are pretty hard topics in themselves. The book takes place in 1976 in a small town in Texas and the most powerful thing about all these topics is that we are seeing the exact same issues today and the way we talk about them is much the same. I think we all like to think about how much better people are in terms of being inclusive and tolerant but a book like this takes that thought and throws it out the window when you realize we haven't come as far as we're all patting ourselves on the back for.

In terms of the writing itself, the book does a fantastic job of putting us in the minds of the characters it follows. While a lot of the voices did sometimes sound the same (at times I had to try and remember who's point of view I was reading) I think each voice stood out enough to make each character likable and believable. It was an interesting setting and not typically the kind I enjoy but it was important to the story. My only complaint is it felt like nothing was really happening for a lot of the book. There were a lot of chapters that were about waiting for something to happen and then big chunks of time would pass rather than playing any of that out for us. While some of it was interesting near the end (as it would go into what would happen with character's relationships after the book) a lot of the time it just felt rushed. The great climax of the book wasn't much of a climax so some of that lost time may have been interesting.

Overall it was a fantastic read and something that would be a great book club pick as there is a lot to unpack and talk about here. This is the kind of book that will have you thinking about it long after you've finished it.
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It's astonishing that this is a debut novel. The writing is spare and lovely. The sense of place is such that the setting is an additional character. I loved how it was full of female anger but also full of grace and love. Fully recommend.
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Wow! This book was stunning, and I am hoping that it receives all the praise when it comes out. As a Texan, born and raised, I was excited to receive a copy of this one. I even lived in west Texas for a short time, and the author was so accurate in all her descriptions. This is 2020's Where the Crawdad's Sing, and I am so excited for people to get a peek into west Texas.

The cast of characters is long, but somehow they were all so perfectly developed. Growing up in Texas, I can relate to knowing everyone of these characters. The roots are deep. Good luck getting through this book without shedding tears, wanting to punch a pillow, and feeling grateful for the support system you have. 

I will definitely be passing this book along and recommending it to everyone, especially my fellow Texans.
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VALENTINE'S
BY ELIZABETH WETMORE

I loved this novel and I doubt that my review cam do this story justice.  The writing is so compelling that although this isn't due for publication until April 2020, it is one of my favorite novels that I have read in this tail end of 2019.  It takes place in the western part of Texas in a little town called Odessa sometime in the 1970's.  I would say that although this book has plenty going on it is most definitely a character study of the several women who comprise this warm and beautiful book.  It is broken up into several sections with each section devoting itself to one of the many likable female characters.  It is rich with vivid detail about time and place and each character.  Odessa plays it's own separate character's with descriptive colors like brown and dusty and the landscape has many dangers from the oil to the rattlesnakes.  I wouldn't want to live there with the hot temperatures that is famous for giving these characters sunburns which peel leaving most of them with freckles.  Wetmore's rich and vivid prose gives me the feeling that this is a dustbowl with lots of different hues of brown.  As I mentioned this takes place in the 1970's during an oil boom and it is a dangerous job for the men.  These snakes not only lurk in the fields but also have had their opportunity to hide in the houses.  This addictive debut novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.   I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and think Elizabeth Wetmore is destined for a very successful career as a writer.  I could see the comparisons to Elisabeth Strout in her Olive character being similar to Corrine at first.  I warmed up to Corrine by the middle of the novel.

The book begins with a young Mexican American called Gloria Ramirez who willingly goes off with a mean and nasty Dale Strickland who brutally beats and rapes Gloria.  Gloria is trying to make her exit from Dale's pick up truck the next morning while he is sleeping.  There is a menacing backdrop that gives one the idea that Dale isn't finished with Gloria and will murder her.  As she makes her perilous journey through the oil fields Gloria sees a farm house in the distance which she walks to barefoot with her feet bloody and a bloody hand from holding onto a barbed wire fence.  Gloria finds her safe haven when she knocks on the door of Mary Rose who tells her young daughter Aimee to call the sheriff and have him come quick as the farm is quite isolated.  Mary Rose happens to be a teacher jack shot with her rifle which comes in handy when Dake arrives demanding to get Glotia.  Mary Rose is my favorite character although most of them are quite likable.  Mary Rose is also pregnant and will have to move into town for safety reasons as she is the sole witness for Gloria.  I don't understand why Gloria doesn't testify at her own trual.

Corrine is sort of an Olive Kitteridge character in the beginning but I soon warmed up to her.  Her husband is very much a character even though he tragically committed suicide  because of a deadly brain tumor.  As serendipity would have it I just finished reading a neurosurgeon's  non fiction account about his experience with dealing with Glioblastomas in a book titled, "I have seen the end of you."  This is what Potter was diagnosed with.  Corrine doesn"t feel like moving any of Potter's things since he died such as a crossword puzzle that he was working on.  Corrine likes to add bourbon to her glasses of iced tea which she sits daily on her front porch drinking and kicking Debra Ann off her property.
Corrine won't answer the door or the phone to speak to their only child named Alice.

Debra Ann is a precocious young girl who has make believe friend's until one day she meets this young man who lives in a drain pipe.  He has just gotten out of the army and he has a ruptured eardrum.  He makes a list of provisions that he needs and Debra Ann does her best to get them for him.  She steals a blanket and frozen casseroles out of Corrine's house and everybody in the neighborhood starts missing things.  Debra Ann's mother Ginny has gone on this sort of finding herself mission abandoning Debra Ann who tells everyone her mother will be back by Hulyv4th.  This young ex soldier is saving up his money so he can go home and also pay back one of his friend's that has his truck.

This was a very well written book that was written with way above average skill by Elizabeth Wetmore.  This was very fascinating reading and the character's come to life on the page.  Although the landscape is very vibrantly described and Elizabeth Wetmore writes with a vision that makes us see the oil boom that took place during the 1970's, there is violence but it does not come across as gratuitous.   She writes with a restraint that is both tender and powerful. And hopeful.  As I read I felt a sense of warmth that exuded off this very addictive novel's pages.  I didn't want to put the book down and read it in just two sittings.  All of the characters are unique from one another and trying to survive their own plights of life.  The prose is just humming with passage after glorious passage.  I really want to go back and start reading this novel all over again.  Its sheer beauty and rawness makes me know that I will reread this when time permits.  I know one thing for sure that this is that rare masterpiece that makes you sad to end the book and totally miss the characters.    This is one of the best debut novels that I have ever read.  Wetmore has certainly made a fan out of me and I really do want to begin this all over again and read it from cover to cover.  I can't wait to see what this talented author will come out with next.  This novel is worthy of a more experienced writer.  I am so very grateful that I got the opportunity to read from this ARC this masterpiece that as I have already said that I will definitely read again.  It is that good.  I loved it and I have a feeling that anything that I read next will pale after this by comparison.

Thank you to Net Galley, Elizabeth Wetmore and Harper Collins Publisjing for generously providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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This was an exceptional novel. It is set in Odessa, TX in the 1970's and each chapter is narrated by a different woman involved in the story which was really interesting. Also, the style of writing, which I had to get used to once I started reading, was different because the author does not use quotation marks for dialogue as it is just part of the flow of descriptive words and thoughts each character has--made it very interesting. The story is about Gloria, a 14 year old Mexican girl who is brutally and violently raped by a man older than her and how this one event affects not only her but the entire community. There is not a lot of tolerance for the Mexican population and racism and bigotry are rampant. Everyone has their own opinion, and as the story plays out, the consensus of the townspeople really shows especially when the verdict is read regardless of what the victim says and what really happened. A moving, descriptive, fascinating and powerful book that will definitely soon be a popular choice for readers. An amazing debut novel. Definitely looking forward to her next book!!  Thanks to NG for the ARC!!!!
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Odessa, Texas in 1976 isn’t an easy place to make a living, especially if you’re a woman. You are expected to know your place, and woe be to the few that dare to challenge the status quo. The terrain is rough and unforgiving, the oil boom is taking its toll on the residents, and a shocking and violent crime against a 14 year old local girl sends reverberations all throughout the town. This sweeping tale is told by different residents and how the effects of this crime seep into their lives. ⁣
The author infuses her debut novel with a lyrical prose, beautifully detailing the Texas landscape, and her characters. You feel the longing that each character harbors and the weight of words untold. Each female narrator is unique and when their chapter ended, I eagerly anticipated their next passage. There was no need for a male perspective in this book, especially once you read about the many misdeeds done by the men of Odessa; you are made clearly aware of their feelings and how they would taint the story to fit their own narrative in their favor. ⁣
My only complaint about this book was how unprepared I was for the ending. I thought I had more pages to go and I was already on the final page. I became heavily invested in several characters, particularly Glory and Mary Rose, and I longed for another chapter from them. I look forward to reading Elizabeth Wetmore’s next book
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. This was a hard to read book at times, due to subject matter, but it pulled you in and the story was wonderfully written. Will definitely recommend to others.
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An interesting look at how a small town deals with assault, racism, and discrimination. The book jumps from the perspective of many different characters in the novel. It wasn't until I finished the book that I realized that every chapter is from the perspective of a female character and the novel is mainly focused around female relationships and interactions, which I really liked. I do feel that we at the end of the book, the one character I didn't feel like I knew as well as I should was Gloria (Glory) Ramirez. I enjoyed the writing style very much and I would definitely read more from this author in the future.
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Could not finish. Not my cup of tea so Ih ad to give up. Could not finish. Not my cup of tea so I ad to give up.Could not finish. Not my cup of tea so I ad to give up.Could not finish. Not my cup of tea so I ad to give up.
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4.5/5 stars

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.

This is an astonishing debut. The language is evocative and haunting. I could not stop reading, and at the same time did not want the book to end. And there were definitely parts where I was afraid to keep reading for fear that something awful was about to happen to one of the characters.

Valentine is set in small oil town Texas in February - late summer 1976. The opening chapter is heartbreaking and haunting and sets the stage for the rest of the book. The book is told from alternating viewpoints of women (and girls - because some really are still girls) and is about how the brutal rape of one teen forever changes all of the women in town. But more than that, this book is about the strength and resilience, and ultimately hope, of women and girls in the face of adversity.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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