Valentine

Elizabeth Wetmore. Harper, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-291326-5
Wetmore’s stirring debut follows a group of women as they find the strength to survive a series of hardships in 1970s Odessa, Tex. After oil rigger Dale Strickland is charged with the rape of 14-year-old Gloria Ramírez, the town is split between those who believe he is guilty and those who believe she brought it on herself and who cast bigoted aspersions about Gloria and her family. Mary Rose Whitehead, pregnant with her second child and feeling alienated from her rancher husband, envisions a brutal comeuppance for Strickland and bonds unexpectedly with the reclusive Corrine Shepard, a recent widow who shares in her outrage (“as if there might have been some moral ambiguity, Corrine thinks bitterly, if Gloria Ramírez had been sixteen, or white”). Ten-year-old Debra Ann, whose mother abandoned her and whose father lets her wander freely, leaves behind imaginary friendships to help Jesse Belden, a luckless Vietnam vet. With Mary Rose as a major witness for the prosecution, Gloria eventually gets her day in court, though the outcome doesn’t please anyone. As a storm threatens Odessa, Debra Anne watches a “thousand-foot cloud rise up from the earth,” setting the stage for a series of potential tragedies, culminating with Mary Rose’s ire stoked by the sight of her neighbor Debra Ann walking with Jesse, a stranger to her. 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. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 12/09/2019
Release date: 03/31/2020
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-291328-9
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-06-297934-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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