Buy the Book


($0.00 shipping)

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

When you purchase Realizing River City directly from my website, you save money on the price and shipping, and I will personalize and sign the copies for you. I'll also toss in some extra goodies to make your reading experience even more enjoyable!

Website purchases ship media mail every Friday. 

Order I Don't Belong Here 

Order both books


Book Description

 At times, life can feel like a challenging feat of survival. Whether it’s living through abusive relationships or figuring out the complexities of what it means to be a woman searching for love, Realizing River City is a memoir that proves how despite the troubles we may face, there is hope in the way we continually risk ourselves in search for the life we want to live. In her poetic exploration of past relationships, Melissa Grunow’s honest words do not falter in the face of so much loss. Taking the rage we all feel about grief and pain, and funneling it into truth, beauty, and ultimately redemption on each page, Realizing River City is about discovering how the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves.  



The 2018 Book Excellence Award 

Memoir Category 


 The Readers' Favorite 2017 International Book Award Contest 

 Silver Medal for Non-Fiction-Memoir  


 The 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award 

Second Place for Non-Fiction


The 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award  

Outstanding Memoir 


 The 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year  

 First Book- Nonfiction Finalist

Praise for Realizing River City


"A deeply rich meditation on what it means to be a woman in a sometimes uncertain and complicated world, in relationship to men, but ultimately, and more importantly, to oneself. Melissa Grunow's Realizing River City raises just as many questions as it answers, circling back always, in beautiful prose and a clear, honest voice, to what it means to be alive, to love, and to be present for all of it."  
 —Amina Cain, author of Creature and I Go to Some Hollow

"Realizing River City is the compelling story of Melissa Grunow’s search for love with all the wrong men. It’s a story about loss, love, compassion, and finally redemption, as Grunow learns to stand on her own, embrace life’s messiness, and forge ahead full of hope for the future. I was cheering for her as I turned the final pages!"
 —Kate Hopper, author of Ready for Air and Use Your Words

"Melissa Grunow has written an intimate exploration of need, desire, doubt, and survival; her memoir is remarkable for its heart-breaking honesty."
—Robert Root, author of Happenstance and Postscripts: Retrospections on Time and Places

"Empowering. Beautiful. Brave. These three words are the epitome of Melissa Grunow’s Realizing River City. Traversing through personal transformations, the strength that lives within her memoir stems from Grunow’s fresh writing and unrelenting honesty. She doesn’t hold back when showing us the complexities of what it means and what it looks like to become an independent woman. This is a book about liberation. This is a book about revolution. This is a book that will live in your body long after you have finished it, a book that will embolden your life, always."
 –Chelsey Clammer, author of ​Circadian

"In her memoir Realizing River City, Melissa Grunow shares with honesty and clarity the often-precarious landscape of love, loss, and longing. Her book offers readers vibrant details of New Mexico and an intimate glimpse into a woman’s persistent search for acceptance and positive relationships."
—Dinty W. Moore, author of Crafting the Personal Essay

Author Interviews

Author Spotlight Interview

 "I'm always surprised when aspiring writers tell me they would rather write than read. But reading is a part of the writing process." 

 Book Excellence Awards, August 2018 

All the While, Keep Writing

 "I’m fascinated with the way that seemingly good people can be just awful to those they love (myself included), and so when I write, I’m sharing intimate moments to investigate the 'why' of it all." 

 Temenos ​Literary Journal, April 2017 

NPR's Between the Lines

 “It becomes abundantly clear to a reader when you’re holding something back,” she says. “You have to tell yourself, 'I’m going to crack myself wide open on the page, because I’m doing this for something bigger than myself' — and that’s the art and craft of writing.” 

 With Zinta Aistairs, November 3, 2016 

What, Why, How

 "A good story isn’t just a well-written experience; it’s a universal truth that connects with individuals on all levels and seeks answers to unanswerable questions." 

 Linda K Sienkiewicz's Blog, June 9, 2016 

Author Spotlight

 "I adore imagery and am fascinated by the way writers can play on denotative and connotative meanings of words to add new meaning to a descriptive paragraph." 

 The Writer's Treasure Chest, April 21, 2016 

Interview with Memoir Author Melissa Grunow

 "After college, I took a ten-year break from writing. It wasn’t planned or intentional. I just didn’t have the compulsion to craft anything new. Honestly, I think I needed those ten years to live." 

 Infinite Pathways, February 29, 2016 

Book Reviews

Readers' Favorite Book Review

 "This is a powerful story, beautifully written in a style that is lyrical, friendly and seductive."  

 Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite, Sept. 22, 2017 

Book Review in Hippocampus

 "Grunow’s writing is vulnerable yet strong, and she delivers her stories with the voice of someone who isn’t afraid to admit she seems to consistently attract the wrong men." 

 Angela L. Eckhart, Hippocampus, Sept. 1, 2016 

Story Circle Book Review

 "Honesty and straightforwardness are the hallmarks of this book, and it is Grunow's transparency that fueled this reader." 

 Diane Stanton, Story Circle Network, August 25, 2016 

Book Review: Realizing River City

 "Readers will instinctively feel connected with her and her troubles, as well as her strengths in the face of adversity." 

 Beth Rodgers, Author, August 11, 2016 

#BuyThisBook: Realizing River City

 "I also love that this book just sucked me back into re-reading it for about a half hour while I was looking for my favorite passage because it’s so damn good." 

 649point133, August 8, 2016 

Book Review: Realizing River City

 "This book carries you along a swirling river to the end, to a peaceful riverbank where the dangerous waters of abuse cannot reach." 

 Literary Arts Review, March 7, 2016