Publisher: Open City Books
Distributed by: Kate Travers at The Literary Ventures Fund
Publication Date: May, 2006

The First Hurt
Rachel Sherman

In this brilliantly original debut story collection, Rachel Sherman evokes the wonders and horrors of a young woman's life, from girl to teenager to adult, through crushes, sex, family, and the agonies and ecstasies of finding one's way. Sherman's beautifully direct and deceptively simple prose produces accessible, shockingly real narratives that combine a disarming sexual edge with great sensitivity and humor. From a high-school girl's crush on her female teacher, to a family's serenity threatened by a sexy Danish au pair, to a girl's sexually outrageous soldier penpal, all the way to a young couple's horrifying yet life-affirming experience of learning to love their brain-injured newborn twins, this collection wends its way around the deepest of struggles with unusual frankness and wisdom. The First Hurt heralds the arrival of a singularly fresh and remarkably assured new voice.


  • The First Hurt was short listed for The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Story Prize
  • The First Hurt was named one of 25 Books to Remember from 2006 by the New York Public Library.


"Rachel Sherman's stories are real wonders—brave, dangerous fictions full of heart and wit. She gets to the creepy, despairing, hilarious core of adolescence like few writers I've read. This is an amazing debut."

—Sam Lipsyte

"Rachel Sherman writes stories like splinters: they get under your skin and stay with you long after you've closed the book. These haunting stories are both wonderfully, deeply weird and unsettlingly familiar."

—Judy Budnitz

"In this excellent first collection, the human body is a promise of future happiness and a source of present embarrassment. The prose is another matter: polished, poised, sure of itself. It's a very grown-up way of recording the queasy intimacies, the frighteningly raw perceptions, and the almost cosmic desolation of a suburban adolescence."

—Benjamin Kunkel