Bold, dramatic and deeply unsettling’ Guardian When Velveteen Vargas, an eleven-year-old Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn, comes to stay with a couple in upstate New York, what begins as a two-week visit blossoms into something much more significant. Soon Velvet finds herself torn between her hosts – Ginger, a failed artist and shakily recovered alcoholic and Paul, a college professor – and her own tormented mother. Ginger longs for a child of her own, but Paul continues to refuse. Bemused by her gentle middle-aged hosts, but deeply intuitive in the way of clever children, Velvet quickly senses the longing behind Ginger’s rapturous attention. Velvet’s one constant becomes her newly discovered passion for horse riding, and her affection for an abused, unruly mare. A profound and stirring novel about how love and family are shaped by place, race and class, The Mare is a stunning exploration of the sometimes unexpected but profound connections made throughout our lives.