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Valentine: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 31, 2020

4.2 out of 5 stars 3,163 ratings

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From the Publisher

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of April 2020:When a young Mexican girl is viciously raped and beaten by a brooding oil-slick cowboy, the small town of Odessa, Texas, must decide where the law lies and who they believe. Narrated by five women, Valentine is the story of how they survive amidst the 1970s violence, poverty, and racism that surrounds them. Despite their wounds, each of these women—whether victims or bystanders, young or old, lost or found, directly connected to the violence or not—are sunbaked strong and have been fighting for their lives as long as they can remember. Desperation, loneliness, and fear abound in this novel, but so too does care, compassion, and hope. Elizabeth Wetmore’s debut calls to mind Western greats like Larry McMurtry but supplants the hardened cowboys with fierce and courageous women. Haunting, powerful, and beautifully written, Valentine will linger with you long after you’ve finished the last page. —Al Woodworth

Review

“A thrilling debut. . . . Like Miriam Toews’ Women Talking, Valentine is a story about how women—particularly women without much education or money—negotiate a culture of masculine brutality. This is the story of their lives in a backwater oil town in the mid-1970s, which Wetmore seems to know with empathy so deep it aches. . . . Carefully wrought and emotionally compelling.”  -- Washington Post

"A monument to a sort of singular grace, and true grit." -- Entertainment Weekly

Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore’s fierce and brilliant debut novel, is set in Odessa, a rough-edged West Texas town built on cattle and oil. It evokes the physicality of the place with a visceral power that recalls Cormac McCarthy, and sets out its cultural ambience and mores with the ironic clarity of Larry McMurtry. This literary landscape has been defined by men as surely as the reality it represents. Wetmore sweeps them to the sidelines, defiantly and confidently claiming West Texas for the women and girls. . . . Valentine joins the best Texas novels ever written.” -- Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Excellent. . . . Tense and riveting. . . . D.A. emerges a gritty, welcome addition to American literature’s pantheon of young heroines. . . . Wetmore, a native of West Texas and graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, offers with her first novel a harrowing narrative of a region she knows well, described with precision and passion.” -- Associated Press

“Exceptional. . . .Wetmore, like Harper Lee before her, has little interest in preserving the illusions of people who believe that justice and love will always prevail. . . . an incredibly moving and emotionally devastating piece of work that heralds great things from Wetmore.” -- Houston Chronicle

"Wetmore’s characters offer perspectives that cross generations, socioeconomic classes and races. Yet all characters serve to showcase the resilience of women and the power that comes in deciding the direction of one’s own story." -- San Francisco Chronicle

“Gripping and complex. .  . . Wetmore’s delight in language enlivens every page. . . . With its deeply realized characters, moral intricacy, brilliant writing and a page-turning plot, Valentine rewards its readers’ generosity with innumerable good things in glorious abundance.” -- Chicago Tribune

"Valentine shines with strong characters, some sympathetic, others detestable, and a complex plot with narrative threads smoothly knitted together." -- The Missourian

“Fierce and complex, VALENTINE is a novel of moral urgency and breathtaking prose. This is the very definition of a stunning debut.” -- Ann Patchett

“It is nearly impossible for me to believe that Elizabeth Wetmore is a first-time novelist. How can a writer burst out of the gate with this much firepower and skill? VALENTINE is brilliant, sharp, tightly wound, and devastating. Wetmore has ripped the brutal, epic landscape of West Texas out of the hands of men, and has handed the stories over (finally!) to the girls and women who have always suffered, survived, and made their mark in such a hostile world. These are some of the most fully realized and unforgettable female characters I’ve ever met. They will stay with me." -- Elizabeth Gilbert, New York Times bestselling author of City of Girls

“A testament to the resilience of the female spirit. . . .Wetmore’s prose is both beautiful and bone-true, and this mature novel hardly feels like a debut. You’ll wish you had more time with each of these powerful women when it’s over.” -- Bookpage (starred review)

“Stirring. . . . Wetmore poetically weaves the landscape of Odessa and the internal lives of her characters, whose presence remains vivid after the last page is turned. This moving portrait of West Texas oil country evokes the work of Larry McMurtry and John Sayles with strong, memorable female voices.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A searing, propulsive debut. . . . Through these alternating narratives, Wetmore tells a powerful story of female anger, a repressed rage against systematic sexism and racism ready to explode. . . . From its chilling opening to its haunting conclusion, this astonishing novel will resonate with many readers.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Drawing comparisons to Barbara Kingsolver and Wallace Stegner, Wetmore writes with an evidently innate wisdom about the human spirit. With deep introspection, she expertly unravels the complexities between men, women, and the land they inhabit. Achingly powerful, this story will resonate with readers long after having finished it.” -- Booklist

“My goodness, what a novel. I clutched this book in both hands and by the end I could feel the dust of West Texas on my skin. Elizabeth Wetmore understands the nuances of the human heart better than almost any writer I’ve read in recent years, and I rooted for these women with everything I have. There is violence here, and despair, but in the end the story is a testament to quiet courage, to hope, to love. Every person should read this extraordinary debut.” -- Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes

“Elizabeth Wetmore shows us the vivid and complex culture of Odessa, Texas. The women in this book move through their difficult lives with strength and surprising grace. The landscape and characters are rendered with precise and lyric prose. Valentine is a beautiful book written with compassion, understanding, and deep honesty. A remarkable debut.” -- Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark

“In Valentine, Elizabeth Wetmore cracks open West Texas and lays bare what beats inside: a world at once ferocious, fragile, and furious, where women and girls fight menace from every fanged quarter—land, animal, human. But fight they do, for themselves, for each other, for what’s right. Wondrously, amid the sorrow, Valentine thrums with the most staggering beauty, a compassion and tenderness as vast as the sky. 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

"In outstanding prose, Wetmore has created a handful of extraordinary women out of the dust of West Texas, 1976. They are all so real, with their hard lives lived with absolute humanity. Valentine is both heartbreaking and thrilling, I loved it."  -- Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper (March 31, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062913263
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062913265
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.05 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.05 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.2 out of 5 stars 3,163 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
3,163 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 13, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on April 7, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

Mr. Peter Webb
3.0 out of 5 stars A grim tale
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2020
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Can’t stop thinking about this book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 5, 2020
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Itsjustme
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 21, 2021
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Mig Bardsley
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely harrowing but brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 15, 2020
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Kaffmatt
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended- Racism and bigotry in oil boom Texas
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2021
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