Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore takes place in 1976 in Odessa, Texas where oil fields are the economic mainstay of the community. Fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramirez escapes to Mary Rose Whitehead’s home the victim of rape and a horrific beating. Gloria’s attacker, Dale Strickland, finds her at Mary Rose’s house but fortunately police intervene and Gloria is taken away by ambulance.
Dale Strickland is charged with rape and has his day in court. Mary Rose testifies but Gloria does not. Dale is found guilty, fined and placed on probation. Some feel that the sentence does not fit the crime, especially the small group of women that surround and support Gloria. These women and Gloria tell the story from their point of view in alternating chapters.
This debut novel is a “Read with Jenna” Today Show book club choice and was a hard story for me to read. It depicts an obviously unfair system where a young Mexican girl does not get justice and leaves. It is a very well-written, engrossing read, but I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.