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Monday, October 01, 2018

 

Book Review and Giveaway: I Don't Belong Here (Essays) by Melissa Grunow

A few weeks ago we interviewed writing instructor and award-winning author Melissa Grunow on her love of writing memoir, teaching and live storytelling. If you missed that interview you can check it out here. Today, we are excited to be featuring a review of her latest release I Don't Belong Here, and offer up a giveaway to two of our readers! Learn more about the book of essays in the review below.


About Melissa Grunow:
Melissa Grunow is the author of I Don't Belong Here: Essays (New Meridian Arts Press, 2018) and Realizing River City: A Memoir(Tumbleweed Books, 2016) which won the 2018 Book Excellence Award in Memoir, the 2017 Silver Medal in Nonfiction-Memoir from Readers' Favorite International Book Contest, and Second Place-Nonfiction in the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards. Her work has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, The Nervous Breakdown, Two Hawks Quarterly, New Plains Review, and Blue Lyra Review, among many others. Her essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and listed in the Best American Essays 2016 notables. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction with distinction from National University. Visit her website at www.melissagrunow.com or follow her on Twitter @melgrunow.

Book Synopsis:

What does it mean to belong? In a place? With a person? To a family? Where do our senses of security and survival lie? I Don't Belong Here ruthlessly investigates alienation during moments of transit and dislocation and their impact on women’s identity. These twenty essays—ranging from conventional to lyrical to experimental in form and structure—delve into the root causes of personal uncertainty and the aftershock effects of being a woman in an unsafe world. Provocative, authentic, intimate, and uncompromising, Melissa Grunow casts light on the unspeakable: sexuality, death, mental illness, trauma, estrangement, and disillusionment with precision and fortitude

----------Review by Renee Roberson

Memoir is not something I read a lot of, although I’ve been trying to remedy that over the past few years with books such as Wild and The Glass Castle. I even took a course with Grunow a few months ago on writing creative nonfiction so I could sharpen my own skills. I was curious to see how her teaching style related to her own work, and I wasn’t disappointed with I Don't Belong Here: Essays.

First of all, I love the theme of the book; after all, who here doesn’t relate to feelings of isolation and not fitting in? I Don’t Belong Here is divided into four distinct sections: “Unspoken,” “Displaced,” “Suppressed” and “Misunderstood.”

She describes the death of a part of herself after a violent sexual assault by a boyfriend in the piece “Before and After.” The description of her experience is so painfully raw and honest that the reader wants to weep along with her. It is also a stark and unfortunate depiction of the way so many sexual assault victims are treated during the investigation process.

In “Fire and Water” Grunow dives into the differences between the destruction fire and floods can cause to a home, and an analysis of the impact each one leaves behind. “A flood is worse than a fire,” a co-worker tells her. “After a flood, you’ll worry whenever it rains.” She describes the damage a heavy rain and flood caused to her home in Michigan, and the effect of storms and tornados in her childhood years living in a mobile home park. Grunow reminisces about riding her bike with her childhood friends, picking up the metal skirting from mobile homes that was blown about, balancing the pieces on her handlebars and cutting her knees as she pedaled. Anything, everything, can cut something else, she remembers.

Grunow’s writing is rich, lyrical, and draws parallels that one would never even think of, making for a savory reading experience. She digs deep into her own psyche while exploring her decision to get multiple tattoos during her college years in "Marked":

I give workshops, presentations, trainings, all as a professional who appears professional. Underneath those layers, though, my skin sings a different song, a ballad of many verses comprised of love, pain, mistakes, imprinted memories. 

Personally, I could especially relate to the piece titled “We’re All Mad Here: A Field Guide to Feigning Sanity,” where she writes about doctors, You will burn through doctors the way a middle school girl burns through crushes.

I highly recommend I Don’t Belong Here, whether you’re looking to dive deeper into the world of memoirs and creative nonfiction, or seeking ideas for how to expand your own writing. There is much to dissect here, and I promise you by the last page, you will be ready to take a good, hard look at your own imprinted memories and how they have shaped your world.


*****BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a copy of I Don't Belong Here (270 pages, New Meridian Arts, 2018) by Melissa Grunow. We will choose two winners randomly next Monday, October 8th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5 Comments:

Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for reviewing this book. I've developed a serious crush on essays lately--although memoir is still my main love.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Abigail Gibson said...

I look forward to reading this from an outstanding author.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Jamie Martin said...

I need to read something real. Thanks.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Looking forward to reading your essays.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Buddy Garrett said...

The book sounds very interesting. I would love to read it.

7:27 PM  

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