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Articles & Reviews

On October 30, 2020, Annie Bloom's Books
welcomed Lois Ruskai Melina for a livestream
reading from her book The Grammar of
Untold Stories
. She was in conversation with
local poet Paulann Petersen.

The Grammar of Untold Stories

essays by Lois Ruskai Melina

Print (softcover) $16.95  


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Sixteen essays — ranging from lyric essays to narrative journalism — address how we make sense of what we cannot know, how we make change in the world, how we heal, and how we know when we are home. Collectively, these essays convey the longing for agency and connection, particularly among women. They will resonate with readers of all ages, but perhaps especially with women in the second half of life, those dealing with aging parents, retirement, illness, and accompanying vulnerabilities. Here readers will find comfort within keen reflection upon life's ambiguities.


ISBN: 978-1-951651-41-1 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-951651-42-8 (ebook)

LCCN: 2020944078

Released September 2020; Copyright 2020

180 pages


Lois Ruskai Melina is a writer and retired educator. She was the editor and publisher of Adopted Child newsletter and the author of three books focused on helping parents understand the impact of infertility and adoption on families formed by adoption: Raising Adopted Children, Making Sense of Adoption, and The Open Adoption Experience (with Sharon Kaplan Roszia). For her book By a Fraction of a Second, she followed nine elite women swimmers for eighteen months leading up to the 2000 US Olympic Trials.

After receiving a PhD in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University in 2008, she taught leadership at two universities. Her research focused on social movements and the performance of leadership. She was the lead editor of the anthology The Embodiment of Leadership.

Melina lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband where she enjoys rowing on the Willamette River and following women’s soccer. She has a grown son and daughter and two grandchildren.



The Grammar of Untold Stories brilliantly illuminates the stories buried underneath the surface of history, family, work, and home. Below the cover story of personal and cultural identity are the stories of people who have lived, loved, risked everything, and sometimes died trying. With dazzling form and mesmerizing content, Melina brings us to the edges of self passions and discoveries, revealing the secrets we carry in our bodies for a lifetime. Readers enter into the worlds of labor law and the rights of women workers, life meeting death, the other side of motherhood, AIDS, space history, family, faith, and the future, all nested within one another in a kind of living history carried in the body of a woman who narrates as keenly as a journalist with the voice and vision of a poet. Truth and beauty on every page.”
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan, a 2017 New York Times Notable Book, and The Chronology of Water, finalist for the 2012 PEN Center USA Creative Nonfiction Award

“There are few pleasures greater than fully entering the searching, inquisitive mind of another, and Lois Ruskai Melina’s debut essay collection allows the reader to do just that. The Grammar of Untold Stories deftly makes the personal universal—it is an intimate, nuanced rumination on family, work, friendship, and home, delivered in bold prose that hums with the curiosity of a true seeker.”
— Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light, longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award

“From the opening words of this luminous book, Melina crafts prose so achingly beautiful, so touched with wonder. Each essay acts like the surface of water, inviting us to explore deeper. Family, children, infertility, and loss are just some of the issues explored in this brilliant book.”
—Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Butterfly Girl and The Enchanted, longlisted for the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

“Full of love, loss, longing, and hope, Melina’s collection is a poignant look at what it means to embark upon a quest for origins, identities, and meaning. Whether “tracking down answers” as an investigative reporter, a heartbroken daughter, a wounded mother, or a healing friend, Melina pieces together the puzzle of who she is—and who she might yet be. Like the wild animals whose patterns she observes, Melina is intent upon tracing her own migration, and, in doing so, she offers us unflinching stories of resilience, redemption, and rebirth. Always, we are reminded of the threads of community, solidarity, and continuity that bind and keep us no matter where our journeys might lead.”
— Kim Barnes, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and A Country Called Home, recipient of the 2009 PEN Center USA Literary Award

Articles and Reviews

Diane Donovan, “Review of The Grammar of Untold Stories: EssaysMidwest Book Review, January 2021

Carol Smallwood, “Interview of the Author of ‘The Grammar of Untold Stories,” Literary Yard, December 10, 2020

Wendy J.Fox, Named one of 15 Books From Smaller Presses You Won't Be Able To Put Down,” November 3, 2020


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