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Published on Oct 6, 2016
"Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden". A memoir by Alexandra Risen.
Alexandra Risen's father dies just as she and her husband purchase a nondescript house set atop a natural gorge in the middle of the city. The garden is choked with weeds and crumbling structures. Over the years, as she undertakes the replanting, it stirs memories of her childhood when a nearby forest was her only escape from an empty home life.
As Risen beats back the bushes to unveil the garden’s mysteries, her mother has a stroke and develops dementia. On one of her last visits home, she discovers an envelope of yellowed documents that helps her piece together some of her parents' unknown story.
Uprooted from the Ukraine to work in Nazi Germany during the Second World War, her father and mother met and married in a Displaced Persons camp before emigrating to Edmonton. They never discussed their troubled past. Her father shut himself into a safe, silent world and spoke few words to Alex during his lifetime. Her mother sought refuge in her garden amidst her vegetables, flowers and fruit trees.
As Risen toils in her own garden, lifelong resentments and misunderstandings are replaced with memories and connections to her parents. Organized around various flowers, trees and shrubs that evoke particular memories, Unearthed is an affecting account of tangled family relationships, reconciliation and the healing power of nature.
About the Author Alexandra Risen has lived her life in gradual migration from the northwestern prairies to the hilly southeast. She loves her garden as much as she loves technology. She has published essays in The Globe and Mail and Hippocampus Magazine. She holds a Certificate in Creative Writing, Bachelor of Commerce Degree, an MBA, and a Diploma in Urban Planning. A Board Member of the Toronto Botanical Gardens, Alexandra lives with her husband, son and rescued dog in Toronto, Ontario. www.AlexandraRisen.com