One writer’s search for meaning, one family’s journey to healing...
Jane Olmsted’s family didn’t adhere to the characteristics that the media portrays for those struggling with mental illness and addiction. Doctors, attorneys, and social workers repeatedly told Jane and her husband that they weren’t used to working with “families like yours.” The Tree You Come Home To tells the story of Jane’s family’s struggle with mental illness, addiction, and the crises that followed the murder of her youngest son. It can provide hope and comfort to those facing similar situations and encourage empathy and compassion in those who haven’t.
Jane Olmsted is a professor of English at Western Kentucky University. Her collection of poetry, Seeking the Other Side, was published in 2015 (Fleur de Lis Press) and a chapbook, Tree Forms (Finishing Line Press), was published in 2011. Her poems and stories have appeared in Nimrod, Poetry Northwest, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Adirondack 2Review, and Briar Cliff Review, among others. An essay about the loss of her son, “The Weight of a Human Heart,” won the 2001 Memoir Journal grand prize for the guns issue.
Olmsted was born in Minneapolis and grew up in Ohio, with her mother, who was the music librarian at Oberlin College and who instilled in her a love of the arts and a political awareness of social injustice. Olmsted earned her BFA from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and her MA (University of Louisville), both in English and creative writing; she also has a PhD in English and feminist studies from the University of Minnesota.
Olmsted and her husband, Ken Casey, raised three boys in Bowling Green, Kentucky. She teaches in the English Department and he teaches philosophy and religion at a local community college. They are raising their youngest son’s daughter; another granddaughter lives in Louisville. They live almost in the country with three dogs, two cats, and innumerable fish.
WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING:
“Jane Olmsted's meticulously detailed account is a wake-up call for schools, churches, social workers, legislators, psychologists, medical doctors, and all those engaged with the mental and emotional wellness of at-risk youth.”
—Sena Jeter Naslund, Ph.D., author of Ahab's Wife and others
“Jane Olmsted weaves together life and death, tragedy, and moments of grace in this extraordinary memoir on the murder of her youngest son. In luminous writing, Olmsted plumbs the complex and fluctuating dynamics of family, motherhood, grief, and faith while forging a path towards healing.”
—Kristin Czarnecki, author of The First Kristin: The Story of a Naming