Written with the haunting emotional power of Elizabeth Strout and Barbara Kingsolver,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 1976and OdessaTexasstands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperityits women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow. In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Dayfourteen-year-old Gloria Ram├¡rez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch housebroken 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 evasiveone of the town’s women decides to take matters into her own handssetting the stage for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences. Valentine is a haunting exploration of the intersections of violence and raceclass and region in a story that plumbs the depths of darkness and fearyet offers a window into beauty and hope. Told through the alternating points of view of indelible characters who burrow deep in the reader’s heartthis fierceunflinchingdarkly funnyand surprisingly tender novel illuminates women’s strength and vulnerabilityand reminds us that it is the stories we tell ourselves that keep us alive.
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