Lizzette Barrios Gracian, the dreamer behind The Untold Story Bookstore and Cafe

The Untold Story, My Dream

Anyone who grew up in Anaheim will tell you that besides Disneyland, our city is very much a cultural desert.  We have a single museum; The Muzeo, no theaters or playhouses, and no bookstores.  That is right, not a single bookstore.  Anaheim residents are forced to travel outside the city for the pleasures of watching a play or a musical, visiting a museum, or buying a book from an actual bookstore.  We envy Santa Ana’s cultural vibe. 

What is a girl to do if she doesn’t have the privilege of walking into the smell of printed pages, into that musty rich scent of wood that still clings to life ages after it has been transformed into thin pages? Start her bookstore, of course!  

I have always been that nerd who learned to slouch because she was carrying too many books or hunched over for hours reading.  Books saved me as I was trying to survive poverty and acculturation.  It was Judy Bloom that helped me decipher  American culture.  I got a glimpse of middle and upper-class America and left my crime-ridden neighborhood (located right behind Disneyland) behind as I turned pages.  

There were few Latinx authors in the ‘80s.  I don’t remember finding my immigrant story on the pages I read.  Few books spoke about the experiences my neighborhood friends, and I were living.  I realized later on that not only did I know very little about my own background, but I also had learned next to nothing about African American, Native American, or Asian cultures.  My gay friends were still in the closet, and I did not even realize it.  

So when I dreamt about my own bookstore, I decided I wanted to make sure that I presented the Untold Story.  I wanted my bookstore to be the place where the voices that I did not get a chance to hear growing up had a loudspeaker!  I dreamt of a place that expands our sights, dares us to get out of our comfort, and challenges us to find likeness in what we perceive to be different.  I wanted it to reflect our city! 

The brick-and-mortar is still to come, so the dream is still growing roots to become a reality.  The Untold Story is still in gestation, and this online store is its womb.  But it will be born! It might take 40 weeks or two years if it’s an elephant, but it will be born! 

And when it does, it will be a place where we can sit together and share a poem while we drink a coffee. It will offer you a quiet place for a friendly game of chess. Maybe you will be enjoying Arroz con Leche as you turn a page.  You will come to a community meeting or a women’s night of networking.  We will invite you to a family Loteria night, or maybe to a children’s storytime.  

No matter what, we hope you become part of the dream turned into reality and help us tell the Untold Story.

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