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*Read E-pub È Valentine ⚢ An astonishing debut novel that explores the lingering effects of a brutal crime on the women of one small Texas oil town in the sMercy is hard in a place like thisIt s February , 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 followIn the early hours of the morning after Valentine s Day, fourteen year old Gloria Ram rez 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 consequencesValentine 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 A Will and a Way and Odessa Something Terrible, Something Lovely Texas النقد الذاتي بعد الهزيمة stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom While the town s men embrace the coming prosperity Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Games Master Pack its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to followIn the early hours of the morning after Valentine s Day Det svarta hjärtats vilja (Symbaroumsviten, fourteen year old Gloria Ram rez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead s ranch house The Snow Queen - OBER - Grade 2 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 Farewell Gulsary the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequencesValentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and race Mated To The Vampire Clan class and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fear Two Kinds of Love 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 The New Penguin Atlas of Recent History this fierce Tactics unflinching Mrs Rosie and the Priest and surprisingly tender novel illuminates women s strength and vulnerability Vinterviken and reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive I am kind of short of words to describe all the emotions this novel granted me Having received a library copy, I read it just in two days and finished this morning.Those of my GR Friends who have already reviewed Valentine remark on the outstanding writing power that you can find in this novel and the fact that it is a debut makes it evenremarkable The voices of female protagonists of different age are strong The stories of their lives in Odessa, Texas, in the mid seventies made my he I am kind of short of words to describe all the emotions this novel granted me Having received a library copy, I read it just in two days and finished this morning.Those of my GR Friends who have already reviewed Valentine remark on the outstanding writing power that you can find in this novel and the fact that it is a debut makes it evenremarkable The voices of female protagonists of different age are strong The stories of their lives in Odessa, Texas, in the mid seventies made my heart beat faster and faster as my reading progressed I felt for all female characters, no exception there, and just hated the male dominance and lack of respect There are just two male characters who go against the tide and who have some softness about them Some scenes have such intensity that I all I could do was just to sit still, listen too my heart pound and read The psychological background is amazing and I found nothing artificial, superficial or unbelievable in any scenes I was right there, with Glory, Corrine, Mary Rose and Karla Their problems and will to protect themselves against men make the core of this book It is rare for a debut novel to feel so mature and realistic and natural My opinion is that this novel deserves all the positive hype it has been generating since the publication Definitely one of the top books I have read this year, and as a result, I am going to get my own copy of Valentine An astonishingly unforgettable debut from the talented Elizabeth Wet, historical fiction set in the searing heat and dust of West Texas, in the cursed bust and boom oil town of Odessa in 1976, a white man s town in every which way, where men die in a variety of circumstances but if a woman dies, itslikely than not to be at the hands of a man For women, narrow limits and prescribed perameters of life have them desperately dreaming of seeing a wider world, where pregnancy and motherhood An astonishingly unforgettable debut from the talented Elizabeth Wet, historical fiction set in the searing heat and dust of West Texas, in the cursed bust and boom oil town of Odessa in 1976, a white man s town in every which way, where men die in a variety of circumstances but if a woman dies, itslikely than not to be at the hands of a man For women, narrow limits and prescribed perameters of life have them desperately dreaming of seeing a wider world, where pregnancy and motherhood are steel traps with a vice like grip that crush spirits, dreams, hopes and imprisons, a life sentence with no parole Odessa is a town, a community full of fools and sinners, that is as guilty as sin, with its vicious, unapologetic racism running rampant through its veins, where women and girls are abused, condemned and murdered with impunity, and justice is a forlorn unattainable ideal Wet examines Odessa and the social norms and attitudes of the period through the lives of women and girls, such as the married and pregnant Mary Rose Whitehead, the elderly, stubborn, grumpy and bereaved Corinne Shepherd, mourning the loss of her beloved husband, Potter, 17 year old Karla Sibley working as a waitress, the plucky 10 year old Debra Ann, missing her mother, Ginny, who loves her daughter, but needsas she escapes the town, and 14 year old Mexican Gloria Mary Rose s courage shines like a beacon when she stands up for the barely alive, battered and raped Gloria when the girl turns up at her ranch Her husband, Robert, like the other menfolk, consider her beyond the pale, and a race traitor for her willingness to testify against the paedophile and rapist Dale Strickland, the son of a preacher man After all, Gloria, who becomes Glory, is Mexican, asking for it, and anyway Mexican girls are not the same as white girls Mary Rose dares to dream of justice for Gloria, but Corinne has no such illusions.Wet relates an Odessa where the women, despite everything that stands in their path, support and help each other, such as the indomitable Corinne coming to the aid of Mary Rose as her unbridled wrath and rage at injustice push her close to the edges of insanity, Suzanne Ledbetter with her voluntary provisions to those in need, and the women supporting Karla, determining an alternative justice Debra Ann s compassion, kindness, and relationship with the drain pipe living ex soldier, Jesse Belden, allow the two of them to meet each others need to be cared for when they are neglected by everyone else Victor, Gloria s uncle, looks after her when her mother is deported, illustrating his wisdom in understanding that nothing causessuffering than vengeance This is a stellar character driven read that details the lives and circumstances of this place and this time, a novel with an ironic title of Valentine, the only true Valentines in the novel are Corinne and Potter, and Potter is dead Wet is unafraid of venturing into sacrilegious territory where her characters can feel the all too real chains and boredom of motherhood, where you can love someone with all your heart and still wish they weren t there This is a hugely memorable and terrific read, and I just cannot wait for whatever Wet turns her attention to next and writes Highly recommended Many thanks to HarperCollins 4th Estate for an ARC Hey there, Valentine His soft drawl marked him as not from here, but not that far away either, and his words took the ugly right out of the parking lot Her mouth went dry as a stick of chalk She had been standing next to the lone picnic table parked in the center of the drive in, a shaky wooden hub in the middle of a few cars and trucks, doing what she always did on a Friday night hanging around, drinking limeades and begging smokes, waiting for something to happen, which it never did, not Hey there, Valentine His soft drawl marked him as not from here, but not that far away either, and his words took the ugly right out of the parking lot Her mouth went dry as a stick of chalk She had been standing next to the lone picnic table parked in the center of the drive in, a shaky wooden hub in the middle of a few cars and trucks, doing what she always did on a Friday night hanging around, drinking limeades and begging smokes, waiting for something to happen, which it never did, not in this piss ant town Not until tonight.The next morning, February 15, 1976, Gloria Ramirez wakes to find herself out in an oil patch, on the ground, the handsome young roughneck passed out in his pickup Miles from home, she gathers articles of her scattered clothing, puts some of them on, and heads off in search of the nearest house, praying that he does not wake up before she can find her way to safety Gloria has been raped and beaten to within an inch of her life She walks across miles of rough country on bare, bloody feet, finding a house minutes before Dale Strickland, having come to, and realizing the need to cover his tracks, kicking up clouds of road dust in pursuit, arrives at that house and demands that Gloria be turned over to him Thankfully, Mary Rose, very pregnant with her second, but in possession of a rifle named Old Lady, that she has had since she was a teen, fends off the increasingly threatening Mister Strickland until the sheriff she had had her daughter, Aimee, call, arrives to keep things from getting any worse Gloria will survive this day, a different person from who she was the day before She is fourteen years old.Elizabeth Wet image from Balti ReviewGloria s rape and the ensuing trial is where we begin in Elizabeth Wet s lyrical, moving tapestry of a time and a place, Odessa, Texas, the late 1970s It may not be that misery was born in Odessa, but it sure seems eager to stop by and visit as often as possible on its way to bigger game Why did God give oil to West Texas To make up for what he did to the land The focus is primarily, although not exclusively, on the females of this town, particularly four living on Larkspur Lane.Mary Rose Whitehead stepped up to protect young Gloria in her hour of need, in heroic form Her reward Frequent calls, every day, of a threatening nature, enough to drive her to take a place in town, on Larkspur Lane, sparing her the vulnerable feeling of being left to fend for herself out near the oil patches while her husband was away at work.Corinne Shepherd had been doing her best to drink and smoke herself to death following the departure of her husband, Potter, six weeks dead She had already been forced to retire from a lifetime of teaching by mouthing off to the wrong person in the teachers lounge I think we might imagine the general subject matter But she gets drawn into the vortex created by Dale s crime and Mary Rose s willingness to man up and testify, ironic, as MR s husband gives her crap for having opened her door to Gloria in the first place.Debra Ann Pierce is ten, and the epitome of na ve optimism This is the first Spring she has known since her mother, Ginny, left, promising, promising, promising to come back for her in a year, when she finally gets settled someplace else Pop may not be really up to the task of raising his daughter alone Debra Ann seems keen on connecting with Corinne, maybe looking for a substitute mother, or grandmother Corinne s impulse is to do the equivalent of waving a broom and yelling at her to get off her lawn, but DA persists She is a great kid and you will love her Particularly when she strikes up a heart warming friendship with PFC Jesse Belden, late of the war, deaf in one ear, exploited by a relation in town, and living in a drainage pipe And we follow Glory, who sees herself as a new person after her experience, so alters her name Her trials are not over with surviving the rape and beating Will she testify Will she be able to return to school While she is recovering from her many injuries, and laying low, there is an incredibly beautiful scene in which Glory is befriended for a time by an unlikely person Have your tissues ready.There are , Ginny Pierce, DA s mother, fits the local demo for parenthood What do you call a single mother who has to be up early in the morning A sopho She may love her kid, but not enough to live this godawful withering life any longer She really, really, really intends to come back for DA Karla Sibley is a 17 year old single mother working hard to make a better life Suzanne Ledbetter, is trying to do better for her family that her ancestry might have predicted Men are happy if you stay, but only on their terms Women are meant to be at home, not in the work force They are expected to tend the nest, making, and then taking care of babies Appealing, no Women in Odessa seem to either get burned out or burned up, dying to get out, or just dying Most with the ability to dream want to leave, but some never get the chance A local woman s burned body has been found, the fourth in the past two years What a thing an oil boom is for a town, Corinne used to tell Potter bitterly, it brings in the very best sort of psychopath What is it like to be a woman, a female, growing up in a place where the land is sere and cold hearted, the attitudes antediluvian, and where the opportunities for things to go bad far outweigh the chances for some actual self realization, a place where good old boys tend to look after their own, regardless of their crimes, and crime victims are expected to shut up and somehow conclude that they had it coming It is pretty tough to stand up when the local winds blow dark and hard and encourage one to dive for shelter Yet, in this flat, miserable landscape there are glimmers of hope Maybe this girl, this young woman can find a way to a better life Maybe that woman can make something better out of a marriage gone stale Maybe some people will be able to communicate meaningfully with some other people to stave off the darkness of solitude It is these flashes of light that give us, that give any of the characters here, hope Every August for the nearly thirty years she taught English, in an overheated classroom filled with farm boys and cheerleaders and roughneck wannabes reeking of aftershave and perfume, Corinne would spot the name of at least one misfit or dreamer on her fall roster In a good year there might be two or three of them the outcasts and weirdoes, the cellists and geniuses and acne ridden tuba players, the poets, the boys whose asthma precluded a high school football career and the girls who hadn t learned to hide their smarts Stories save lives, Corinne had said to those students To the rest of them she said, I ll wake you when it s over DA and Glory both loved the stories their mothers told them DA getsfrom her friend, Jesse It is one of the things that binds them The novel alternates perspectives, Mary Rose s being the only first person account Gloria s horrific experience may be the MacGuffin of the novel, but Mary Rose is the character we spend the most time with, the one whose life remains in peril, even after Dale s arrest, the one through whom other characters link Wet is impressively skilled at conveying backstory We get a very good idea of how all her major characters wound up where they are in 1976, and find out where some of them are headed in their lives ahead I confess to pining to learn the where are they now about manyof them Each chapter contains links to other characters story lines, reminding me of the backstitch, binding the individual tales together to make a stronger wholeThe issue, the problem, the reality of secrecy pervades the story Almost everyone is hiding something now or has done some serious squirreling away of intel in the years before And, of course, there are those who cover the truth in self serving lies, even though the truth is barely secret at all Hoping for better, for example, can be a heavy secret when resignation is the norm.Panhandle Dust Storm image from the author s siteOdessa is a scary place The weather is a large player here, the landscape oppressive, persistent, and hostile Wet s descriptions give aspiring writers something to aim for Tonight the wind blows like it s got something to prove It moves from window to window, a small animal sharpening its claws on the screens Out at the ranch you hear this sound and you think possum or maybe armadillo Here in town you might think of a squirrel or somebody s cat Lately the wind makes me think of animals that have not been here for a hundred years, panthers and wolves, or twisters that threaten to lift my children impossibly high in the air, only to fling them back to earth Small animals dash across the stage from time to time, almost always toting some smaller creature in their mouths It is a red in tooth and claw place, and not just for the people Danger also comes in the form of dark intentioned telephone calls Mary Rose is not the only woman who gets them.You may be reminded in reading this of another excellent ensemble cast look at an out of the way place, Bryn Chancellor s beautifully written 2017 debut, Syca, or maybe Jennifer Haigh s Baker Towers, weaving together the lives of a community to tell a whole story I have read only two books The other being My Dark Vanessa so far slated for publication in 2020 It now being July, 2019 As it happens, both of them are bloody spectacular, both deserving candidates for book of the year recognition It promises to be an amazing year.The only real gripe I have is that it will be such a long wait until March, 2020, when Valentine is scheduled for release really, not February But I assure you it will be worth the wait Elizabeth Wet has written a masterful novel, one that will touch your heart, and impress you, whether you are a casual reader or literary deconstruction sort It is a beautifully written book that takes on real world subjects, a great, great novel This is one Valentine you will want to make all yours The harvest moon has come early this year, blood red and beautiful against the darkening sky Try floating with your ears under the water, Tina had said to Glory as they drifted across the swimming pool that afternoon Listen, she said, the sounds from the highway will blend together a truck hauling pipeline or water, a flatbed turning onto the highway, the drill on a rig slowly winding itself up, they will all start to sound alike You can tell yourself you re hearing anything, Tina said, her large white arms floating next to her like buoys And will you look at that sky It s a wonder, a damned wonder Review posted July 26, 2019Publication date March 31, 2020 EXTRA STUFFThe author s personal, FB, Instagram, and GR pages Wet teaches creative writing in the Chicago area She has received multiple fellowships and held sundry residencies Her writing has appeared in The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Balti Review, and probablyI admire and respect her for this, but as much for having once driven a cab By the author Balti Review Women Horses 1976 The story of Debra Ann s mother leaving It does not exactly match the chapter in which Ginny says goodbye to Debra Ann, but it is worth a look It works as a top notch stand alone piece It was published in 2013 The Iowa Review Shelter in Place Jon Ledbetter Suzanne Ledbetter s husband in the book heading into the plant to deal with an accident, possible benzene spill Good stuff.Items of Interest Anne Sexton s Live or Die Ella Fitzgerald My Funny Valentine A hauntingly powerful, and beautiful debut This is a longer than usual review, but I just had to be sure I could do it justice Odessa Texas in 1976, and believe me when I say I felt as if I was there The brown dry land and the beautiful purple sky on the cover are portrayed in beautiful prose The intimate thoughts and feelings of the characters make such an impact, as we become privy to the burdens they carry as they make their way through life in this dry, brutal land where oil and men rul A hauntingly powerful, and beautiful debut This is a longer than usual review, but I just had to be sure I could do it justice Odessa Texas in 1976, and believe me when I say I felt as if I was there The brown dry land and the beautiful purple sky on the cover are portrayed in beautiful prose The intimate thoughts and feelings of the characters make such an impact, as we become privy to the burdens they carry as they make their way through life in this dry, brutal land where oil and men rule These characters and their stories, how they connect are so perfectly drawn in multiple alternating points of view.The novel opens with Gloria Ramirez, a fourteen year old Mexican American girl, who after being brutally attacked and raped, has so much taken from her As for Gloria, she will never again call herself by the name she was given, the name he said again and again while she lay there with her face in the dirtBut not any from now on, she will call herself Glory A small difference, but right now it feels like the world Her afterthoughts following the gut wrenching physical attack are heartbreaking Mary Rose Whitehead, wife of a cattle rancher, mom of a young daughter and pregnant, who finds Glory on her doorstep, faces a harrowing encounter that will forever change her Corrine Shepard is a grieving widow, drinking to ease the pain of her loss, is besides her late husband, the last person to see Gloria before the attack A former teacher, she believes Stories can save your life Debra Ann Pierce, a precocious 10 year old, grieving and missing her mom who has left My heart was broken for this little girl, who is kind and fearless beyond her years These are the main characters, whose lives intersect, but there a few other shorter points of view of women impacted by the misery they share of being a woman in this place and doing what they need to do to survive Sometimes it s leaving and sometimes it means staying The story takes an emotional toll, right from the start I held my breath, heart in my throat in the opening chapters, but by the end, my heart was almost back in place and these characters were in it There is so much here grit and violence, injustice and prejudice, but amid the worst of this I found strength of conviction, caring and the kindness of women and a ten year old girl who manage to rise with a little hope for a way forward A debut from one very talented writer who knows how to tell a gripping story with characters that I ll remember What I love the most about reading new books by a new author is discovering a debut novel that is just so good in every way that I immediately wonder when the author will write another It s only June, but I can safely say that this novel will most definitely be on my list of favorites for the year I will have my eyes out for Elizabeth Wet with hopes of another book So many of my GR friends read and reviewed this within the last few months I didn t read some of them or very many books for a while because of a personal issue, but I m going to read every one of their reviews if I haven t yet I received a copy of this book from Harper through Edelweiss Apologies for for not getting to it sooner