In our modern times, it’s more important than ever that we turn our eyes and ears to the women living among us—women who have been maligned and sidestepped for centuries and are now fighting back, struggling to demolish the hoary old patriarchy once and for all, and shine a light on what it’s like to live as a woman in 2018 and beyond. This is exactly why Melissa Grunow’s new collection of essays, I Don’t Belong Here, is such an essential book for this divisive era—the curtain has been drawn aside.
Grunow’s collection certainly isn’t for the faint of heart; there’s plenty of grit, sorrow, and a hefty dose of fierce determination—all aspects of being a female in modern America. I Don’t Belong Here doesn’t focus much on the present times, but rather explores the author’s past relationships and experiences in an effort to gain a better understanding of just who she is today, and how she and many like her got here. Her keen sense of self-determination is an awe-inspiring salve for many of the psychological burns women suffer to this day. It is her intensely confessional tone—her willingness to let it all lay bare, scars and all—that give this collection of personal essays a veritable punch to the amygdala.
From paranoia suffered abroad in faraway countries around strange men to the lamentations of a failed marriage and relationships that led to heartache and pain, Grunow has given her readers a confident, yet unassuming set of confessionals that serve to help us understand the plight of many women. Though she has lived in many places across the country, her mind often returns to her childhood in Michigan: during overwhelming hot summers in New Mexico or elsewhere. The Mitten State has clearly shaped much of Grunow’s psychological landscape, as well as her memories.
Above all, these essays, though dark and often filled with grief, are a testament to female resilience. Grunow is a gifted, thoughtful writer with an unfiltered tone that serves her readers what we desperately need: empathic understanding.
–Michael A. Ferro’s debut novel, TITLE 13, was published by Harvard Square Editions in 2018. He was named as a finalist by Glimmer Train for their New Writers Award, won the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award for Fiction, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Michael’s writing has appeared in Juked, Michigan Quarterly Review, Monkeybicycle, Heavy Feather Review, Duende, Vulture, Splitsider, and elsewhere. Additional information can be found at www.michaelaferro.com.
Featured in October 2018 newsletter