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On Bittersweet Place


Winner of the 2016 Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition  

Available wherever books are sold, from Relegation Books: On Bittersweet Place, a novel by Ronna Wineberg.


On Bittersweet Place is the powerful coming-of-age story of Lena Czernitski, a young Russian Jew whose family flees their homeland in the Ukraine after the October Revolution. The story unfolds in Chicago during the Jazz Age of the 1920’s, where Lena’s impoverished family has settled and where she must traverse the early years of adolescence.  Lena’s new world is large and beautiful and full of promise, but it is also cold and unwelcoming and laden with danger.  Ronna Wineberg delivers a moving, universal story of family, self-discovery, young love, and the always relevant experience of the immigrant, the refugee, the outsider struggling to create a new home and a better life in an unfamiliar place.
Praise for On Bittersweet Place:  
"Long before the phenomenon that is Lena Dunham, Ronna Wineberg gives us the unforgettable Lena Czernitski. This incredible girl will steal your heart. She is passionate and practical, fierce but also forgiving. Wineberg's debut novel On Bittersweet Place will hold you in its gentle enthrall.  A coming of age novel, an immigrant story, and an altogether moving meditation on life and the pursuit of happiness." ––Marcy Dermansky, author ofBad Marie 
"In the pages of Ronna Wineberg’s On Bittersweet Place, one finds echoes of Anzia Yezierska and Betty Smith; in the fictional story of Lena Czernitski’s immigrant family in the first quarter of the 20th century the reader recovers a piece of our larger American history. Quite impressive." ––Erika Dreifus, author of Quiet Americans
"A powerful evocation of the complexities of the early 20th-century immigrant experience too often sugar-coated and sentimentalized. Rich with precise period detail and iconic historical references, On Bittersweet Place brings to life the travails and triumphs of one Jewish-American family readers will not easily forget." ––Joan Leegant, author of Wherever You Go 
"Youth is never all sweet, and On Bittersweet Place's Lena, a Russian-born Jewish teenager in 1920s Chicago, certainly has her share of troubles. The sweetness is there, though, in this heartfelt coming-of-age tale–– in the tenderness of Wineberg's beautiful prose and the pluck of its resilient young heroine. A story that stays with you." ––Anne Korkeakivi, author of An Unexpected Guest
"A tender–– and tenderly rendered –– portrait of a young Russian emigre undergoing transplantation shock in the New World. Wineberg's wide-eyed protagonist never sheds her guileless idealism, nor does Wineberg's limpid prose ever shed its unassuming grace." ––Peter Selgin, author of Drowning Lessons 

Second Language

  • Winner, New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Literary Competition (2005)
  • Runner-up, Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction (2006)
  • Honorable Mention, Eric Hoffer Award for Books for Excellence in Independent Publishing (2009)  

"While chronicling the ends of relationships, Wineberg is actually planting the beginnings of new life for her characters...These stories possess full, beating hearts that capture our attention and our sympathy. We are immensely attached to the characters. We yearn for understanding in the same way they do...Ronna Wineberg does a wonderful job of showing all her characters fully in the world they inhabit, writing almost in real time of the pain that walks hand in hand with beauty and joy."   ––Other Voices

"A strong collection of thirteen short stories, this book is a quest into beautiful prose and insight. Powerful language passes throughout, proving Wineberg to be a wonderful storyteller.The central theme of the book is people looking for their escape, but it is in the individual stories that reveal Wineberg's real talent, each showing a unique world, giving the overall work a resonating tone. Lines like: 'A good piano can transport you. Not from her to there. But in your mind,' are peppered throughout the work, like little seeds that sprout and grow. Initially, coming across as deceptively simple, Wineberg's metaphors are anything but simple and ordinary."   ––Eric Hoffer Award for Books

"The following comments by Cynthia Ozick about writers and their work (Metaphor and Memory. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989, p. 266) captures precisely the powerful stories in Wineberg's provocative book: 

the writer is an imaginer by trade, will suggest a course of connection, of entering the tremulous spirit of the helpless, the fearful, the apart. The writer will demonstrate the contagion of passion and compassion that is known in medicine as empathy and in art as insight.

It is exactly what Ronna Wineberg does as a writer." Literature, Arts & Medicine

Second Language 
ISBN: 0-89823-224-4 
Many Voices Project Winner (MVP) Number 105
New Rivers Press

Other Writing
"Ronna Wineberg's Ten Rules for Writing a Short Story Collection", The Story Prize 
Forewords, Bellevue Literary Review: 
Issue 19
Selected Nonfiction 
Blogs for Psychology Today 
Blogs for Jewish Book Council 
"Writing, Compiling, and Arranging Short Stories in a Collection", Writers Digest
"How I Became a Writer", Web del Sol 
"Simultaneous Submissions", Steam Ticket
"Circles of Flame", River Oak Review, Splash Magazines
"A Public Defender Work Is It's Own Reward", New York Times 
"In Their Own Defense: A Profile of Denver Public Defenders and Their Work", The Justice Professional, and Ethics in Criminal Justice (Wyndam Hall Press); written with Mathew Lippman 
Selected Short Stories 
"Sleuth", Valparaiso Fiction Review
"Kaleidoscope", Evening Street Review
"Double Helix", North Dakota Quarterly
"Second Wife", Confrontation 
"Bare Essentials", Michigan Quarterly Review
"Safety", Zone 3
"Hurricane", Eureka 
"Continuing Education", Westview
"Reconciliation", South Dakota Review 
"Dislocation", Colorado Review 
"The Feather Pillow", Crone's Nest
"A Celebration of the Life of the Reverend Canon Edward Henry Jamison"Laurel Review, and Finalist, Moment Magazine Short Story Contest 
"The Prisoner", Colorado Daily 



"The Drill Team", And Then 

"I Wish I Were a Poet", And Then 

"The Front Gate", And Then

"God is Optional", And Then, forthcoming