Unearthed by Alexandra Risen
Love, Acceptance and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden

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The narrative moves back and forth between Risen’s childhood and her own family’s experience, with Risen discovering the reason for her father’s silence – working in Nazi Germany during the Second World War imposed that kind of response – and resolving moments of genuine difficulty in her own parent-child relations without trauma.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

In this moving memoir, a woman digs into a garden and into the past and finds secrets, beauty, and acceptance.

Alex’s father dies just as she and her husband buy a nondescript house set atop an acre of wilderness that extends into a natural gorge in the middle of the city. Choked with weeds and crumbling antique structures, the abandoned garden turned wild jungle stirs cherished memories of Alex’s childhood: when her home life became unbearable, she would escape to the forest. In her new home, Alex can feel the power of the majestic trees that nurtured her in her youth.  She begins to beat back the bushes to unveil the garden’s mysteries. At the same time, her mother has a stroke and develops dementia and Alex discovers an envelope of yellowed documents while sorting through her father’s junk pile. The papers hold clues to her Ukrainian-born parents’ mysterious past. She reluctantly musters the courage to uncover their secrets, while discovering the plants hidden in the garden — from primroses and maple syrup–producing sugar maples to her mother's favorite, lily of the valley. As every passionate gardener knows, to spend time with the soil is the opposite of escapism — it is to embrace our own circle of life and hold it close.  
 

About Alexandra Risen

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ALEXANDRA RISEN has lived her life as a gradual migration from the northwestern prairies to the hilly southeast, all the while enjoying nature and increasingly warmer Plant Hardiness Zones. Unearthed is her first meditation on love, forgiveness, and our interconnectedness with nature. She lives and gardens with her husband, son, and rescued dog in Ontario.
 
Published July 5, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Self Help, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Sports & Outdoors, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Unearthed
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 18 2016

Interspersed throughout with recipes for forager-style dishes and desserts, Risen’s book is as much a celebration of nature and family as it is feast for the heart and soul. A generous, poignant memoir.

Read Full Review of Unearthed: Love, Acceptance a... | See more reviews from Kirkus

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Aug 17 2016

The narrative moves back and forth between Risen’s childhood and her own family’s experience, with Risen discovering the reason for her father’s silence – working in Nazi Germany during the Second World War imposed that kind of response – and resolving moments of genuine difficulty in her own parent-child relations without trauma.

Read Full Review of Unearthed: Love, Acceptance a... | See more reviews from National Post arts

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