In September 2007, Christine Ristaino was attacked in a store parking lot while her three- and five-year-old children watched. In All the Silent Spaces, Ristaino shares what it felt like to be an ordinary person confronted with an extraordinary event―a woman trying to deal with acute trauma even as she went on with her everyday life, working at a university and parenting two children with her husband. She not only narrates how this event changed her but also tells how looking at the event through both the reactions of her community and her own sensibility allowed her to finally face two other violent episodes she had previously experienced. As new memories surfaced after the attack, it took everything in Ristaino’s power to not let catastrophe unravel the precarious threads holding everything together.
Moving between the greater issues associated with violence and the personal voyage of overcoming grief, All the Silent Spaces is about letting go of what you think you know in order to rebuild.
Christine Ristaino is a professor at Emory University, where she teaches Italian literature, culture, and language classes. She has co-authored an academic publication entitled Lucrezia Marinella and the “Querelle des Femmes” in Seventeenth-Century Italy through Farleigh Dickinson Press as well as the first edition of a book series called The Italian Virtual Class, which teaches language through cultural acquisition. She currently teaches a creative writing-focused class on Italian memoir, as well as co-teaches a class comparing Italy and China through the medium of food (noodles in particular).
Ristaino is also an Atlanta author whose memoir, All the Silent Spaces, published in July 2019 by She Writes Press, confronts the topics of violence, identity, and discrimination. She writes and publishes articles, essays, OpEds, and non-fiction, and presents her work in various forums throughout the U.S. and abroad. In addition, Ristaino has published articles in the Guardian, Pacific Standard, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on child advocacy, coping with violence, and topics around diversity.
Ristaino participates in efforts around social justice, education reform, and violence prevention. She is an award-winning advisor and teacher and has experience organizing powerful symposiums, seminars, conferences and events. She leads workshops on the topics of diversity, equity and inclusion, privilege, coming to terms with violence through memoir, writing and talking about difficult topics, and creating a public voice.
"An insightful, openhearted memoir about brutality in many forms." – Kirkus Reviews
"All the Silent Spaces is gorgeous, heart-wrenching, and brave. Ristaino’s memoir invites readers to be present to suffering, to seek common purpose, and ultimately to heal our fractured world." – Marie Marquardt, author of Flight Season
"Christine Ristaino transverses complex landscapes of experience: racial and ethnic identities; family ties; the aftermath of violent crime. Her honest reflections remind us there are no easy answers, but that we must continue to ask the difficult questions. This moving memoir is a gift." – Dr. Leslie Harris, Professor of African American History and Co-Editor of Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies
"Throughout the process of reading All the Silent Spaces, I have felt validated in my most-shunned memories of sexual trauma. From her frank representation of the silent struggle for regaining ourselves, Christine Ristaino’s vulnerability has given me solidarity and hope for community around this exiled discussion topic." – Halla Maynard, Survivor