Black Lawrence Press

No Relation

When Paula first met James, she was 26, in graduate school, and not ready to be any kind of mother to his two young sons. But, years later, after caring for them and watching them grow, she finds herself unsure of what to do when her relationship with their father ends. In a collection of striking flash essays, Paula reveals the complexity of loving children who are not her own and attempts to put language to something we have no language to describe. No Relation is a deeply personal, beautifully rendered account of a seldom-remarked on kind of love and loss.


  • In finely-wrought scenes as charged with meaning as images in haiku, Paula Carter tells the story of finding and then losing a lover and his two young sons. In retrospect, her separation from the boys appears to be the greater loss. For as the years tick by, she realizes that these stepchildren, although never fully her own, may be the only children she will ever have. Bittersweet, captivating, No Relation carries the burden of memory in elegant and seemingly effortless prose.

    --Scott Russell Sanders, author of Dancing in Dreamtime
  • Paula Carter is a dream of a writer, poetic and profound. Each of the seemingly quick essays that make up No Relation is its own little lightning bolt; I kept putting the book down to interrogate what had happened to my heart. She asks the big questions: what does it mean to be a woman, a mother? What makes up a family, an independent life? It gave me a part of myself I didn't know was missing.

    --Megan Stielstra, author of The Wrong Way To Save Your Life
  • These small gems speak of love and heartbreak with penetrating wisdom. Each piece is a clue to a larger puzzle about how love works, how to discover its power even in moments of loss. Paula Carter’s finely carved images are saturated with insight that’s rare and refreshing.

    --Samrat Upadhyay, author of Mad Country

Paula Carter

Paula Carter’s essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, Salon, and Southern Humanities Review. She is a professional freelance writer who has contributed to publications including Writer’s Digest and Creative Nonfiction. Based in Chicago, she is part of the nonfiction storytelling scene and a company member with 2nd Story. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University, Bloomington, where she was the Darrell Burton Fellow in Creative Writing and fiction editor for the Indiana Review.

Carter © Lisa Anderson Author page

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