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Under the Birch Tree: A Memoir of Discovering Connections and Finding Home

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A birch tree grows tall and arabesque in the front yard of Nancy Chadwick’s childhood home. Over time the tree becomes her buddy and first learned connection, synonymous with home―and one spring morning, she makes a discovery under its boughs that foreshadows the many disconnections within her family, relationships, jobs, and home that are to come. Through the chapters in ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by She Writes Press
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Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful Debut
A memoir of Chadwick's life,thoughts and feelings as a child. She always found herself more connected to things than people. A father who left them. A mother who charts her way after the fact. Chadwick was always
searching for her place as a child. The meaning of life.It was her faith that kept her driven. A deep look into a family and a young girl growing up. Her joys and her heart break. An awkward girl that I could easily see myself in. A moving,deeply rooted debut.
Thank you
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Under the Birch Tree by Nancy Chadwick

This is beautiful, calm writing about overcoming adversity in Nancy Chadwick's memoir. Her favorite trees are birch trees. She calls them Birch Buddies whenever she sees them in her travels. She starts out by finding solace under the only Birch tree in her childhood home among the other trees in her yard. She discovers a hole under her Birch tree filled with a litter of baby bunnies. Her older brother Tim removes the bunnies and displaces them. She lives wit
Story Circle Book Reviews
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Writers sometimes claim to revel in the solitude of their youths, getting lost in nature, hobbies, writing, or books. Others, such as Nancy Chadwick, languish in the silences, longing to connect in some way with the nearness of others even as the confusion of how to do this prevents it time after time.

Chadwick, the author of Under of the Birch Tree, felt agonized growing up in a family of four who rarely spoke to one another. She became connected to things around her rather than people. As she m
Laurie Buchanan
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
UNDER THE BIRCH TREE is a thoughtful recount of a sojourn from emotionally humble beginnings and subsequent yearning for outside validation, to liberation—shedding of emotional baggage. Chadwick finds her way, her place, and ultimately her home, with serendipitous and uplifting encounters with birch trees along the way. I'm glad I read this book, you will be too.
Ellen Notbohm
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Here is an endearing memoir that rises above the general dysfunctional-family and rocky-coming-of-age genre.

When her parents unexpectedly divorce, the author loses her childhood touchstone, a birch tree that stood in the yard of the home that had to be sold. She seeks similar solidarity and connection in the people who populate the environments of the various homes she occupies from there on, beginning with her mother’s apartment, where mother-and-daughter roles seems to reverse as her mother na
Meredith Grant
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Nancy Chadwick forms an unlikely bond with the family’s Birch tree she calls her birch buddy, and where it, as she recalls, “became a metaphor for living, a guiding symbol for finding home.”
In her debut memoir, Nancy uncovers a family disconnected through lack of communication, solidarity and harmony. It’s a story of true resilience in overcoming the effect her parent’s divorce has on the family unit. Thrown into a battle of self-discovery both personally an
Marian Beaman
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have-read
Nancy Chadwick drew me into her world in Under the Birch Tree, a world that ran parallel to the lives of upper-middle class girls I sat beside in high school. I also understood her description of the world of nature that called up memories of oaks and maples in my own childhood.

Under the Birch Tree is a memoir of seeking connection, growing up with an arid family life where she felt disconnected from her distant Dad, needy mother and older brother Tim in their home in suburban Chicago. Solitude
Mamta Madhavan
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Under the Birch Tree by Nancy Chadwick is an insightful and thought-provoking memoir that speaks about the insecurities of life, the connections and disconnections in relationships and jobs, and the profundities and inner meanings of everybody’s lives. She begins the book with her childhood days and playing in the back yard, and how she forms a connection with the birch tree that grows in the front yard of her childhood home. Her birch buddy is synonymous with home and the author aesthetically l ...more
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
The teen-age years usually rate 5-stars on the “most challenging life decade” scale, but I agree with Nancy Chadwick that the twenties can be just as confounding, even more so. Yes, finding your way in the world of jobs, dating and adulthood has the allure of promise and exploration, but if you possess neither the tools nor loving guidance on how to navigate this new terrain, it is also replete with disappointment, loneliness and endless self-questioning. Many times in this heartfelt coming-of-a ...more
Rita Dragonette
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
An extremely personal recounting of the journey of a life and the lessons it has taught the author. The memoir, with its perhaps-too- ready-to-bend-but-refusing-to-break birch tree metaphor achingly strives to find meaning and apply patterns to a sometimes mystifying series of passages—to ferret out reasons why and why not. Chadwick is a gifted story teller with an open heart looking to equally understand and be understood. This reader wanted to find more universality but was satisfied with the ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and keep thinking about various passage of the book and the author’s journey to adulthood. The writing is beautifully description and patient with the subject matter and events so that the reader has a chance to be immersed in her life, see what she learns and experiences and then I found myself thinking about my own journey to adulthood. I highly recommend reading this book and would make an excellent book club selection.
David W.  Berner
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An honest story of how all of our lives have deep, resonating meaning. No life is without challenges, triumphs, and tragedy. A relatable, heartfelt telling of how we all find our way by not forgetting a past that might have been difficult, but simply by understanding it.
Judith M.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just as the Birch tree conveys its strength as trust, so too does Chadwick demonstrate her faith throughout this memoir. Found myself rooting for Chadwick's happiness as she held tightly to her mantra that God will never let anything bad happen.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I just finished your wonderful memoir!! What a terrific read. I enjoyed reliving the time periods thru your eyes. Who would have known that your true J school was your journal. Congratulations!
Moriah Conant
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
It may be the generation gap, but I struggled to feel a connection with the author and her writing style. There seemed to be too much dialogue for a memoir, and I didn’t see the theme of the book as heavily as I wanted to. I wish the author shared more about what she learned about home through her years of life and multiple moves.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Michelle Cox
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nancy Chadwick's memoir about finding a sense of self and home through birch trees was a lovely, refreshing read. The author paints a very vivid picture of her early childhood in the Chicago suburbs in the 1960s and '70s, a somewhat lonely life that was further torn apart by her parents' divorce. Chadwick skillfully writes of her subsequent quest for belonging and peace, which will surely resonate with many. A delightful read!
Richard Blakeley
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Person we become

Under the Birch Tree is an honest memoir on a lifelong journey that has formed Nancy Chadwick into the person she is today. It is very well written and shows her journalistic prowess. I consider Under the Birch Tree to be a textbook on writing memoir.
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found the book all over the map. The reference to always finding a birch tree nearby wherever she landed I. Life was interesting.
Patricia Krkljes
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Under the Birch Tree is not your typical over the top drama. It is a story almost every one of us can relate to as it captures the feelings of being a child, a daughter, a sibling and the issues of high school insecurity, divorce, first loves, career turns and attachments to the past. Nancy brilliantly sets the stage with her birch tree which is her first friend and perfect metaphor for her struggles to persevere in life. She makes it through all life’s twists and turns with the notion that “God ...more
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Aug 16, 2018
Amileigh Gordon
Jun 28, 2018 marked it as to-read
Mary Kathleen
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Jun 19, 2018
Kimberly Bristol
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May 06, 2018
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Felicity Gorham
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Feb 15, 2019
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Ligia Perez
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely memoir that explores diversity, relationships, family, growth and inner meaning. Nancy starts this beautifully written book with her childhood and her admiration to her favorite tree type (Birch Trees). We follow along as she delves further into her life. The metaphors and analogies to perseverance, lost, and triumph are interlinked wonderfully.

Thank you Netgalley and She Writes Press for access to the galley. Such and empowering memoir!!
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