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5 books to read if you enjoyed 'Valentine' by Elizabeth Wetmore

Don't miss out on these great reads!

Jenna's April Read With Jenna pick, "Valentine" by Elizabeth Wetmore tells a story about the residents of a Odessa, Texas, as they react to a tragic act of violence against a young Mexican girl, Gloria Ramirez.

The book explores how race and class intersect in a small, secluded community in West Texas through five unique and three-dimensional female narrators.

Especially during the month of April, when people around the world have been staying home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, books like "Valentine" can provide a much-needed escape. If you loved Wetmore's debut novel and are hungry to read something similar, the author has recommended five books for readers to dive into next.

1. "Where We Come From," by Oscar Cásares

Set in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, "Where We Come From" by Oscar Casares is a timely novel that highlights the human angle of the immigration crisis in the United States.

As the godmother of 12-year-old Orly, Nina takes the young boy in after his mother suddenly dies. What Orly doesn't know is that Nina is hiding another young boy named Daniel, who recently crossed into the U.S. illegally with a group of dangerous human traffickers.

This book is an intimate look at the impact of immigration policy on families and individuals. It explores how compassion and understanding can ultimately set us free.

2. "Black Light," by Kimberly King Parsons

Each short story written by Kimberly King Parsons in "Black Light" is as surprising and intellectual as the next. Parsons creates female characters who are flawed and complex. In her novel, she explores dark human emotions that fester beneath the surface but also offers moments of humorous relief.

3. "The House of Broken Angels," by Luis Alberto Urrea

When Miguel Angel de La Cruz learned he was nearing the end of his life, he called his large extended family together for a final birthday party in San Diego. Right before the family gathering, his mother dies, making the bittersweet weekend a farewell to both of them.

For two days, the family recounts tales of their past, how they came to call San Diego home and the acts of bravery that allowed them to flourish. Filled with humor and honesty, this book is a joyous celebration of life as a Mexican-American family.

4. "News of the World," by Paulette Jiles

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is a rootless and solitary man who travels around northern Texas in 1870, spreading world news to anyone who will pay to listen. While in Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to return a young orphan to her aunt and uncle in San Antonio.

The girl, who was recently rescued from a band of Kiowa raiders that killed her parents and sister and took her to raise as their own, has no memory of her former life.

The journey to San Antonio is treacherous. It is made even more difficult by the young girl's unwillingness to participate. When they finally arrive, the girl's aunt and uncle are not excited about reuniting with the abandoned child.

Captain Kidd finds himself at a moral crossroad, unsure if he should leave the girl with uncaring parents or rescue her in what would be considered a kidnapping. This gripping tale uncovers what it means to be a family.

5. "The Color of Lightning," by Paulette Jiles

Another book from Paulette Jiles, "The Color of Lightning" is set in 1863. The story's protagonist, a former slave named Britt Johnson, takes his family to northern Texas after the end of the Civil War, in search of a better life for his wife and three children.

While he is away on business, a raid on their town leaves his oldest son dead, his wife injured and enslaved and his other two children a part of a new and foreign society. Devastated, he vows to bring his family back together, no matter the cost.