Very cold People, Sarah Manguso

Staff Pick

Manguso’s first novel is made of so many fine, incremental observations that you may not notice the larger coming-of age story that’s taking shape—making it all the more jolting when it arrives. As narrated by Ruthie, a girl growing up in the fictional New England town of Waitsfield, daily life is a series of mine fields, which, if successfully negotiated, will lead to release from the class-bound rules and the diet of shame (her “birthright”) her outsider parents raise her on, even as she pursues the ordinary milestones of birthday parties, best friends, crushes, first dates, and drinking. Equally ordinary, however, are the girls’ physical and emotional abuses by male teachers and relatives—experiences that shatter Ruthie and her friends in different ways. Like Manguso’s deft nonfiction chronicles of illness, lost friends, and journaling, her fiction hones language to a laser-sharp edge, whether Ruthie is noticing a nightgown’s “cold little fireworks show” of sparks, noting how “the background of my life was white and angry, with violent weather,” or hoping that a friend’s high school pregnancy would ensure “that her father wouldn’t want to go near her anymore.”

Very Cold People: A Novel By Sarah Manguso Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593241226
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Hogarth - February 8th, 2022