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Most Helpful Favorable Review
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.
Passionate Portrayal of Immigrant Family Life
The author, Shandi Mitchell, an accomplished filmmaker, addresses major natural disasters with the same clear vision and sharp intelligence as the minor details involved in milking a cow. Crisp sentences draw me into each character's imagination, sorrow, delight, and search for identity. I spend intimate moments with the children as they fend off disaster, play with each other, grow into their separate personalities, and eventually carry forward the seeds of hope and the shadows of desperation.
With the sensitivity of the trained observer the author leads me through Teodor's struggle to regain the semblance of normalcy after two years in prison and warms my heart with the benevolence and strength of his wife Maria. The immediacy of Ms. Mitchell's writing transports me into Maria's kitchen, where love prevails. But it also forces me to look brutality in the eye when Anna's husband Stefan returns to the homestead.
Nature, bursting with splendor and terrorizing powers, plays a major part in this majestic novel. Like a character on which the family depends, but has no control over, it strips away their security, yet rewards, at times, their tireless efforts toward harmonious coexistence. And I, a deliberate reader, who usually allows her pen to maim the edges of a page with exclamation points, and asterisks, and questions about intent, I refrain from intruding. I hold my breath. Hoping for generosity. Fearful of disaster.
This is definitely not a sugarcoated fairy tale of man's triumph over untamed land nor is it a sob story about the shortcomings of human endurance. "Under This Unbroken Sky" is a well-crafted and passionately honest portrayal of one family's struggle to survive.
posted by Sunltcloud on August 14, 2009Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.
Dark, realistic read.
So you have one family doing a lot of work, putting their blood, sweat, and tears into their beloved farm to make a living, and to survive. On the other side you have the other family. Anna, Petro, Lesya (might be Mischa in other versions of the novel from what I hear), and Stefan. They don't do much. Although Lesya seems to be the one carrying the family on her shoulders (and she's a young girl, younger than 16). Anna is busy wallowing in her self pity and depression. Her marriage to Stefan isn't so great as he leaves for several months and then comes back whenever he feels like it. Petro idolizes his father not knowing any better.
There, you have two very different families. You read through their hardships and at first everything is all right. Then several catastrophes happen. It's almost as if it's an omen for things to come. Then Stefan arrives into the picture. Remember my hatred for Robert Dudley in The Virgin's Lover? Well Stefan is down there too. I can't stand this guy. He's arrogant, he's scum, he's got all the qualities I dislike. Thanks to him, everything just goes to nothing. I can't sympathize with Anna. Then again perhaps she has every right to be acting the way she is. Of all the characters I like Teodor and Maria the most. They were so supportive of each other and were very strong. I admired Maria the most because she went through great lengths to support her family and was the steady "rock" who was the glue of the family.
Normally I don't read this kind of fiction but I decided why not. Give it a try. I don't regret it, however I was a little squeamish as there were parts of graphic deaths of animals and I just can't stomach those. There was a lot of description and normally I can't stand that but it was well done. It wasn't over the top description but enough to let you feel and literally smell the surroundings of the setting so you can actually feel like you're there with the characters. The plot was good and flowed nicely. The ending, well, let's just say it suits the book. Whether it could have been prevented or not, I'm not sure. Probably not. (You'll see what I mean if you read it)
Don't pick this up if you're squeamish. However if you want something dramatic and realistic then read this. It's actually quite good. It's a serious read. It's dramatic, serious, dark, bleak yet beautiful. All at the same time.
posted by Sensitivemuse on August 14, 2009Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2009
Posted August 1, 2009
Not for the Sensitive
This novel is not for the sensitive reader. It is disturbing and harsh in its account of life in the wilderness of 1938 Canada.
The style of writing is a series of events some connected, some not.
It is a sad, hash story with very little joy.
An adult version of Little House of the Prairie with none of the warmth and bonding.
I would not recommend this book, unless you don't mind rape, abuse and heartache, because that is all this offers.
1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2011
A very disappointing book. I thought at times the book must have been written for either high school or younger students, as it was very simplistic in style and composition. The ducks going "honk , honk" shows the writers lack of knowledge of wildlife, as we all know from grade school, that a duck goes "quack, quack". There were a couple of other instances that showed the same lack of knowledge of wildlife. I had to force mysself to finish the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.