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I Don't Belong Here


What does it mean to belong? In a place? With a person? To a family? Where do our senses of security and survival lie? This book 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.

“These incisive essays hover on the border of escape and endurance. Melissa Grunow explores the essential yearnings we all carry with us, even when we tell ourselves we can leave them behind and start over.”

—  Leigh Stein, author of Land of Enchantment

“The greatest challenge for a writer is to appear emotionally naked on the page and make that seem completely natural. Melissa Grunow does this with audacity, aplomb, and grace. Grunow illuminates 21st century issues regarding sex, body image, emotional stability, and self-realization with a fearlessness that few others can match. This is a book whose moment in history is exactly now.”

—  Sue William Silverman, author of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew


“With disarming candor and unflinching excavation of self, Grunow has crafted a remarkable meditation on the concept of home. Her memoir plumbs our need for belonging in our structures, our communities, our professions, our relationships, and pivotally, our skins.”

—  Tabitha Blankenbiller, author of Eats of Eden: A Foodoir


“In these wise essays, Melissa Grunow brings to light the hidden, the forgotten, and the discarded days. Her agile sentences and fearless gaze reveal insights that reach past easy epiphany and toward a rare clarity that is a searching delight to read.” 

—  Sonya Huber, author of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System


“Melissa Grunow's I Don't Belong Here is a well-thought, beautifully crafted collection of essays that—like all good literature—will leave the reader with a bit more insight into what it means to be human.”

—  Sarah Einstein, author of Mot: A Memoir


“Melissa Grunow's prose is a dazzling display of pathos, humor, and everything in-between—like life itself. Landing somewhere between Sloane Crosley and Megan Stielstra—with a dash of David Sedaris—Grunow is a bold new voice for our time and to be savored by all. We can all see slivers of ourselves in varying degrees throughout these pages. For better and for worse.”

—  R.J. Fox, author of Awaiting Identification


“In I Don’t Belong Here, Grunow turns her unflinching lens on the countless steps we take away from ourselves in an effort to form human connections, even closing our eyes to the way familiarity masquerades as love.”

—  Angela Amman, author of Nothing Goes Away: Short Stories


“Intimate. Beautifully written. Honest. Melissa Grunow’s fearlessness is captivating and addicting.”

—  Bryce David Salazar, author of She Sees Metaphors and Tales of Timeless Springs

About the Author

Melissa Grunow is the author of Realizing River City: A Memoir (Tumbleweed Books, 2016) which won Second Place - Nonfiction and Outstanding Memoir in the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards and the Silver Medal in Nonfiction - Memoir from Readers' Favorite International Book Contest. 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.


New Meridian Arts

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