Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Published: 2020 1. First lines. 2. Cover: 4th Estate 3. Barbed wire fence [Public Domain] via Pxhere 4. Rusty pumpjack [Public Domain] via Public Domain Pictures 5. Dodge pickup [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Sepia filter added to original image.

In Odessa Texas in 1976, a young Mexican girl Gloria Ramirez has been violently attacked. She crawls to the nearby farmhouse of Mary Rose Whitehead, but is followed by her assailant Dale Strickland. Mary Rose is able to call the police who take Dale into custody. He is subsequently put on trial where Mary Rose testifies against him. The story also follows the perspective of others connected to this event – Corrine, Mary Rose’s neighbour; Debra Ann, a girl whose mother left the family home years ago; Ginny, Debra Ann’s mother; Suzanne, the town’s Good Samaritan; and Karla, a work colleague of Corrine’s.

“I do know him – who he is and what he’s done.”

This book expertly brings together the lives of various women touched by the crime committed against Gloria Ramirez, and tells a heartbreaking story that is often uplifting, and wonderfully atmospheric. Washington Post: “Several of these chapters are masterful short stories in their own right, but Wetmore knits them together with increasing intensity.” Kirkus: “From its chilling opening to its haunting conclusion, this astonishing novel will resonate with many readers.”


“I used to believe a person could teach herself to be merciful if she tried hard enough to walk in somebody else’s shoes, if she was willing to do the hard work of imagining the heart and mind of a thief, say, or a murderer, or a man who drove a fourteen-year-old girl out into the oil patch and spent the night raping her.”

“The day is lit up like an interrogation room, the sun a fierce bulb in an otherwise empty sky.”

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