Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, And Other Lessons From An Abandoned Garden by Alexandra RisenUnearthed: Love, Acceptance, And Other Lessons From An Abandoned Garden by Alexandra Risen

Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, And Other Lessons From An Abandoned Garden

byAlexandra Risen

Paperback | August 2, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 125 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


Shortlisted for the 2018 Kobzar Award

Shortlisted for the 2018
 Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors

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.
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 ...
Title:Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, And Other Lessons From An Abandoned GardenFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:304 pages, 8.2 × 5.4 × 0.8 inShipping dimensions:8.2 × 5.4 × 0.8 inPublished:August 2, 2016Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143198955

ISBN - 13:9780143198956


Rated 4 out of 5 by from you don't need a green thumb to enjoy this If you are a gardener, you will appreciate the monumental task Risen took on to restore a neglected and wild patch of land into an enchanting garden. But even if you don't have a green thumb, Risen's thoughtful stories about her childhood, the hard decisions she and her sister had to make as their elderly mother's health declined, and the ways in which her family history influenced her life's path, will resonate with you.
Date published: 2018-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well-Written Memoir I am very impressed with how Alexandra Risen wove several story threads together seamlessly. Her writing is never maudlin or overdone. This is a compelling memoir about family, gardening, loss and growth.
Date published: 2018-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent, inspiring and emotionally charged! I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book so much so I didn't want it to end. You'll be hooked from the first chapter. Beautifully written, emotionally gripping. I cried and laughed out loud throughout the book. A must read.
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A lovely poignant tale. Even though this is written as a series of memories, there's a cohesive e story here about Alex's life: her childhood, her son growing up, her mother aging, her research into her parents' escape from war torn Europe. It was very personal and so relatable.
Date published: 2016-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book. Inspirational, emotional and interesting read My wife bought the book and I just started reading it - could not put it down!. A wonderful exploration of a life and the connections with a garden and nature. Really well paced with the reader discovering the family dynamics and secrets and over the course of the book. Inspirational. As soon as I finished the book, I walked into the back yard to see what I could do with the garden and my life.
Date published: 2016-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It moved me, inspired me and changed me - I couldn't put it down I just got my copy of Unearthed and read it in two days! It is now one of my top reads. It is beautifully written, emotionally rich and taps into deep themes around the need for belonging, and the challenges of becoming whole without a strong foundation. The garden plays an important role both for its stunning beauty and myriad treasures but also as a metaphor for exploration and growth. But it is the voice of the author and the people who help her on her path that make this story so relatable. Aren't we all trying to overcome our baggage and fears and live a more loving and joyous life. After reading Unearthed I feel uplifted, inspired and ready to tackle my own unwieldy messes.
Date published: 2016-08-03

Editorial Reviews

“To call this book’s subject a massive project would be a massive understatement. . . . The story, like the garden, is ambitious in scope, but Risen’s amazing dedication pulls it together, both on the page and in the garden. A remarkable book.”—Booklist“Blogger and gardener Risen’s debut memoir is based on a 'collection of reminiscences' from a 10-year period. After the death of her father, an emotionally distant man from the Ukraine, the author and her husband purchase a ranch-style house and an acre of land surprisingly situated in downtown Toronto. The garden is neglected, but Risen, steeped in 'love of nature and living things,' sees the possibilities. Having spent her childhood playing in a ravine near her home in Alberta, she’s eager to restore the abandoned property, once part of a larger estate. The land is rife with unexpected delights: a huge, decaying pagoda, underground aquifers, a pond, koi, deer, and all manner of vegetation. She soon begins making maple syrup, cattail fried rice, and bleeding heart valentines (recipes, instructions, and foraging guidelines included). As the restoration painstakingly progresses, Risen simultaneously delves into her past, exploring why her immigrant parents never revealed details of their family history. She also shares her love of the land with her ailing mother and with her husband and young son (who grows from toddler to techie teen in the course of the decade’s work). As she restores the property and heals her long-troubled soul, Risen paints a vivid and exquisite portrait of nature and its profound significance.”—Publishers Weekly