Allegra Goodman’s graceful short story La Vita Nuova follows Amanda in the aftermath of an emotional break up. Her fiancé has jilted her, and she struggles to recover from the shock, ultimately finding herself through a babysitting job. As she takes care of Nathanial, a precocious little boy, she rediscovers her artistic talent and slowly processes the impact of her broken relationship. Yet, it is not until she sees Nathanial mourn her decision to stop babysitting him that she allows herself to feel the extent of her own lost love.
Goodman’s story is compact and penetrating; and the prose is distant, reserved. Emotion resonates through simple facts that are related as one would relate the weather. As Amanda struggles with what she will do next, her mother ask: '“When was the last time you painted anything? Apart from your apartment?” Her father said, “I paid for Yale.”' Her parents’ disappointment is stark and obvious, and the reader is made to feel the blows of this agitation as powerfully as Amanda does.
What is most interesting, however, is experiencing Amanda’s transformation from a defeated and emotionally-dead victim of a hurtful break-up to someone who can feel again.