The blurb to Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore intrigued me and I looked forward to reading a novel exploring women’s stories.
Genre: Historical Fiction
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.
I so much wanted to love this book, but I could not. Reading the pages within the covers was slow-going for me as I did not feel a connection to the author’s writing. The phrases rambled on and I found the text difficult to enjoy. I did not appreciate the repetition, nor the back and forth between time periods within one paragraph. The author meanders between the past, the present and the future.In addition, Wetmore focuses on minute details – which bored me!
I also couldn’t connect with the characters – the author’s writing style may have prevented me from doing so as well as my boredom. The era described is not one I know about either so I did not have that connection to history. Readers are given just a snapshot into the characters’ lives – a snapshot that does not allow us to see their growth. We do, however, see their disappointments and what their lives must have been like.
There is one scene in the book near the end that engaged me and drew me in. It is a scene that lasts a few pages and encourages me to feel some emotion. How I wish the rest of the novel had been written like this!
I did not enjoy this novel at all. Other people have – and have given it many praises. Unfortunately I am not one of them.
I give this novel ⭐️ 1 star
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020
(This novel was the 37th novel in my book pledge for 2020)