From the author of Veronica, a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, comes Mary Gaitskill's most poignant and powerful work yet: the story of a Dominican girl, the white woman who introduces her to riding, and the horse who changes everything for her.
Velveteen Vargas is an 11-year-old from Brooklyn who is granted a summer vacation in the country, courtesy of the nonprofit Fresh Air Fund. Her host family is a couple in upstate New York: Ginger, a failed artist on the fringe of Alcoholics Anonymous; and Paul, an academic who wonders what it will mean to "make a difference" in such a contrived situation. Here we see the couple's changing relationship with Velvet over the course of several years as well as Velvet's powerful encounter with the horses at the stable down the road, as Gaitskill weaves together Velvet's vital inner-city community and the privileged country world of Ginger and Paul.
The timeless story of a girl and a horse is joined with the story of people from different races and socioeconomic backgrounds trying to meet one another honestly. It is a novel that is raw, striking, and completely original.
©2015 Mary Gaitskill (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Four excellent narrators tell Velvet's story through various points of view in alternating chapters. Each narrator perfectly defines the complexities of the character being portrayed, while showing different sides of Velvet - often not flattering." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By robert on 16-03-16

Horse people should enjoy this.

The horse /human relationships are accurate. Interesting comparison of 2 different worlds and the power of the equine bond. Very well written, but I'm extremely disappointed in the ending.

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21 of 22 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Mark on 06-01-16


This novel is about a "fresh air" 12 year old city girl, Velvet, who spends two weeks in the country with Ginger and her husband. She falls in love with the horses at the nearby stables. It is a first person narrative, with different narrators each chapter. The start of the novel was very good, but each hour I listened made me less interested. Halfway through (8 hours into this), I just stopped caring and quit. For one thing, very little happened. A slow moving story can be good, but only if the characters are great. I liked the girl, Velvet (good character and great narrator), but none of the adults really came alive to me. Ginger, the main adult, just became less and less believable and less interesting. If it were not such a long book, I might have stayed with it. I also wanted more with the horses.

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50 of 54 people found this review helpful

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