The eagerly anticipated debut novel from “one of the most original and exciting writers working in English today” (Jhumpa Lahiri): a masterwork on growing up in—and out of—the suffocating constraints of small-town America.
 
“My parents didn’t belong in Waitsfield, but they moved there anyway.”

For Ruthie, the frozen town of Waitsfield, Massachusetts, is all she has ever known. Once home to the country’s oldest and most illustrious families—Cabots, Lowells, and Pilgrims: the “first, best people”—by the tail end of the twentieth century, it is an unforgiving place, awash with secrets.
 
Forged from this frigid landscape and descended not from Boston Brahmins but from Italian and Jewish immigrants, Ruthie has been dogged by inadequacy her whole life. Hers is no picturesque New England childhood but one of swap meets and factory seconds and powdered milk. Shame blankets her like the thick snow that buries nearly everything in Waitsfield.
 
As she grows older, Ruthie slowly learns how the town’s colonial past conceals a deeper, darker history, and how silence often masks a legacy of harm: from the violence that runs down the family line to the horrors endured by her high school friends, each suffering a fate worse than the last. For Ruthie, Waitsfield is a place to be survived, and a girl like her would be lucky to get out alive.

At once an ungilded portrait of girlhood at the crossroads of history and social class as well as a vital confrontation with an all-American whiteness, where the ice of emotional restraint meets the embers of smoldering rage, Very Cold People is a haunted jewel of a novel from one of our most virtuosic literary writers.
“Sarah Manguso is one of the most original and exciting writers working in English today. Every word feels necessary, and she’s redefining genre as she goes.”—Jhumpa Lahiri, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Interpreter of Maladies

Very Cold People knocked me to my knees. So precise, so austere, so elegant, this story is devastatingly familiar to those of us who know the loneliness of growing up in a place of extreme emotional restraint. Manguso is one of my favorite writers, and this book is a revelation.”—Lauren Groff, author of Florida

“A haunted masterpiece, written with the precision of a miniaturist and the vulnerability of true heartache. I wept more than once; I recognized myself more than once. Very Cold People proves yet again that Manguso is one of the greats.”—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less

“I loved every sentence, thought, and gesture in this perfect novel. Sarah Manguso has painted a deeply moving portrait of the stark unreality of childhood.”—Catherine Lacey, author of Pew

“A poignant and unnerving masterwork about growing up in a dominator society, told with the concision, carefulness, and sense of mystery that we’ve come to expect from Sarah Manguso.”—Tao Lin, author of Leave Society