There is much of value in Blood-root: Tracing the Untelling of Motherless (Second Story) by Betsy Warland. Her story is gripping and compelling. The death of a parent is always a shock that leaves behind a residue of grief and loss. It's such an emotionally loaded event that telling it involves the writer in difficult choices. In this book, the author attempts to avoid sentimentality by keeping the language spare. Instead the writing becomes mannered, laden with the all the things the poet seems to be not saying. The device of spacing out a thin book by placing each piece (are they paragraphs, stanzas or something in between?) on a page leaves the reader feeling that she is simply reading prose, rather laboriously, one paragraph at a time. Putting prose in poetic form doesn't work in this case: too much gets lost. Intricate and interesting ideas are introduced in a brief paragraph, and left. If only Warland had let the power of her story do its work instead of burdening it with such confusing words as "untelling." I waited all through the text for an explanation of why this was an untelling rather than a telling, and never got it. I wanted very much to be moved by this book, since the subject is one that I am very close to, but I wasn't moved. The language wrestled the story to the ground. At the end, I felt as done with this book as Warland said she was done with the death of her mother.