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Outside Valentine

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Every so often a novel comes along that is capable of redeeming the losses it so devastatingly conveys. Disturbing, bittersweet, and lyrical, this is a story of people torn apart by tragedy and yet, finally, transformed by love.

A debut novelist interweaves a trio of voices-haunting, dangerous, full of longing--mysteriously linked by a shocking crime and the search to heal
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Picador (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  414 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ward's storytelling is something like Alice Hoffman's, with darker moments out of Joyce Carol Oates. There are long internal passages as characters think, feel, and wonder restlessly, yearning for love, attention, someone - anyone - to care about them and lift the veil of loneliness surrounding them. When they talk to each other, they seldom say what they really mean. Their world is frozen like the deep Nebraska winter of 1958, in which the Starkweather murders take place.

The theme of loneliness
Jun 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not sure this book belongs in the non-fiction category. I was about half way through when I realized the author is the granddaughter of the Lincoln couple that was murdered. Ward has taken a tragic real life event and somewhat fictionalized it. Changed the names of the characters, not covered all the details. She writes from three perspectives = one of the perpetrators, Caril Ann Fugate, the Lincoln couple's son, and the son's wife. I was curious how much the figures in Liza Ward's story wer ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the style of writing and I liked the movement from character to character. I couldn't put it down. I loved how things ended in the last chapter. ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars This book tried a little too hard for me. It was also even more upsetting than I expected from the subject matter. Not bad, per se, just too much.
Jennifer Collins
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I admire the way Ward pulled together three distinct viewpoints--of children and an adult--in order to explore the repercussions of a wave of murders taken from history, as well as the murders themselves to a certain extent, but the suspense and mystery that the blurb suggests exist in this book are, to a large extent, more imagined than written. As artful as Ward's writing is, this is a literary juxtaposition of viewpoints and ages in relation to a particular set of crimes, and the flat, harsh, ...more
Cyndi Ries
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I struggled with finishing this book because I was not sure what was fiction and what was nonfiction as I read. I know Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate are real and murdered people but I suppose all the other information is simply creativity. Very difficult to determine. The novel was about 1/10 on Starkweather while most of it was on Lowell, the son of a murdered couple, and Susan, a neighbor girl whose mother abandoned the family. Some of the book was about what Caril Ann “might” have ...more
May 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
It took me forever and a day to get through this one. I only stuck with it because I was waiting for a dramatic change in the slow pace of the story.

Wrong, so very wrong.

Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
After a long string of DNF novels (most of which I didn't even note on here because I didn't get past the first couple of pages on them), this book proved to be interesting. Ward's novel about the Starkweather murder spree across Nebraska in 1957-1958 encompassed three narrative viewpoints: Caril Fugate, Charlie Starkweather's teenaged girlfriend; Lowell Bowman, son of the rich couple slain in their Lincoln home (although Ward sets their house in Valentine); and Susan, a young girl fascinated in ...more
Robert Beveridge
Jan 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
Liza Ward, Outside Valentine (Henry Holt, 2004)

Outside Valentine is pretty much tailor-made for me. I'm a sucker for the subject matter (three stories paralleling the killing spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate), the book was released by a major press but dropped off the radar after getting almost no publicity at all, and a whole lot of critics liked it a whole lot. And yet I've spent the last couple of years trying to get myself to like it and failing miserably. It's not that the
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is what I guess you'd call "fact-based fiction", based on the Charles Starkweather/Caril Ann Fugate killing spree in Nebraska in 1958.

It is told from the point of view of Caril, Lowell (son of two of the victims), and Susan (a young girl who is obsessed with the murders and later marries Lowell). It tells how the murders affected families, friends, and neighbors for generations after they took place.

I remember these events well since I lived only about 20 miles away from Lincoln. I was
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
In 1957 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate went on a killing spree that ended the life of 11 people. Caril Ann is one of the narrators of this fiction novel based on the crime. She narrates the 1957 section while a young girl named "Puggy" tells the story of 1962. Puggy lives a few blocks away from the home of 3 of the muder victims and she has developed an obsession with the crime and the teenaged son who was away at boarding school when the murderers entered his ho ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who like true-crime fiction
I didn't realize this was based on a real-life tragedy, but the idea that this story did actually happen sends chills down my spine. This is completely different than most books I read, and the story reminded me of Monster, because it seemed like these two killers simply got ahead of themselves and didn't have any way to get out of the muck they'd dug their wheels into. it was interesting, and certainly a good read, but I just can't fall in love with stories that depress me and have no good rede ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book at the Goodwill...great place to find good books! The story is told from different perspectives. Caril Ann is a young impressionable teen when Charlie finds her in a tree house. Charlie is a murderous young man and takes her along on a rampage. Susan is a lonely teenager who is facinated by the story of Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann, and years later she befriends the lonely girl that lives next door to the house where Starkweather killed a wife and husband. Lowell is the m ...more
Jun 06, 2008 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book. I was 16 years old when the Charles Starkweather/Caril Fugate rampage took place, and it traumatized me. Growing up in a small town in Eastern Colorado I related to the story completely.
I didn't realize until later when I googled some research that Liza Ward is actually a granddaughter of the couple that was murdered in Lincoln, Nebraska. She changed the names of the victims in the book, so I didn't pick up on the relationship. I would be interested if anyone felt
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
When I started this book, I found it confusing, as the author wrote in the first person, but from three different characters point of view. It didn't take long for me to adjust to the differing voices, though, as they were very distinctive. As I reached the last half of the book, I found it hard to put down.

Much of the material was frightening to read, but was written with so much honesty and realism that it was riveting. I only wish that Susan had been more developed as an adult. I kept wonder
Jun 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Dark and cold, just like the cover. A fictionalized account of a true crime (murders in 1958; didn't know this was based on a real even until I finished the book). It took me a long time to get into the shifting narrative; and even longer to latch onto any of the characters. I didn't truly care about any of them until the very end of the book, and then only barely. There was a very detached feeling to the whole thing. Nonetheless the prose itself was quite lovely and I am glad to have read it. ...more
Katherine Farren
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had no idea this novel was based on real life events! Had I known the murder story was true I may have been more intrigued. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story of Starkweather and Fugate far more than the love story between the two main characters. I was disappointed by the ending. I was hoping for something much more dramatic or tragic to happen to the couple, just as Starkweather's and Fugate's fates were. ...more
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 01, 2007 rated it liked it
Dysfunctional relationships lay the foundation for this novel. Multiple, overlapping stories from different times over a 50 year period are woven together in the story. One of them is told from the point of view of Caril Ann Fugate famous for her involvement in the Starkweather serial killings. Interesting once you get involved in the story, which takes a bit of time.
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, true-crime
Ward picks up where the typical mystery leaves off by exploring how the world continues to spiral out of control long after the perpetrators meet justice. Her language captures that mood of isolation and longing that she's going for and the sense of silent tragedy that comes from love gone cold. This one has much more to say about the nature of human relationships than a typical whodunit. ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Popular culture has engraved the Starkweather killings in successive generations' collective memory with Terrence Malick's 1973 film Badlands and Oliver Stone's 1994 Natural Born Killers. There's no dearth of nonfiction accounts, either. Ward, however, reinvents the subject in her first novel. Drawn from the murders of her well-to-do grandparents (parents of her father

Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I actually picked this book up at a dollar store, and couldn't believe how much I liked it, although it's quite different from what I normally read. Although it's fiction, it's based on true crime. These words inside the book jacket describe it better than I could: "Disturbing, bittersweet and lyrical ..." Well written, I recommend it. ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, america, true-crime
Outside Valentine is a novel written by American author Liza Ward. It is a fictional account of the son of two of Starkweather's victims and how the brutal murders still haunt him into adulthood. Outside Valentine is Ward's 1st novel, and she is the granddaughter of two of Charles Starkweather's victims. ...more
Paul Rafferty
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thought provoking book, with a downbeat tone. An interesting study, given the author's relationship to two of the victims. The characters are presented in quite a neutral fashion, leaving readers to make their own judgments. It is an interesting exploration of loneliness. Very well written in light of the author's young age. Recommended. ...more
Kathi Jackson
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I was interested in this book because it has a strong tie to Charles Starkweather. In fact, I thought I heard that the author was a relative to the rich family he executed. The book alternates between three points of view and I was confused at first, but when I finally realized how they were connected, I was fine.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, america
Interesting and gripping novel based on the true life killing spree of a young man in America who goes on the run with his girlfriend. What I liked was how the story was told by 3 seemingly unconnected characters, whose stories come together at the end.
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, not my cup of tea exactly- literary suspense fiction. Based on the Starkweather Fugate killings that also spawned the very fine movie Badlands.
Lori Anderson
Oct 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was just terrific. Skillfully weaving three voices into one story line, the author did a fabulous job of keeping my attention.
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked it... hard to say exactly why right now.
Nov 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
Shelves: shelve-it
Awesome storytelling & good writing make this crime novel excellent. I fear this is her only book, but what a great ride it was.
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