Customer Reviews for

Under This Unbroken Sky: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
( 126 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(73)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Passionate Portrayal of Immigrant Family Life

Enduring solace or unending struggle? What does the "Unbroken Sky" have in mind for Teodor Mykolayenko? Can a man who survived Stalin's executions, the famine, and a Canadian jail term for stealing grain that once belonged to him, heal his own bruised pride and right th...
Enduring solace or unending struggle? What does the "Unbroken Sky" have in mind for Teodor Mykolayenko? Can a man who survived Stalin's executions, the famine, and a Canadian jail term for stealing grain that once belonged to him, heal his own bruised pride and right the wrongs inflicted upon his family? Does life on the prairie soothe or inflame his sister Anna's battered soul? Those are some of the questions I ponder while reading an Advanced Reader's Copy of "Under This Unbroken Sky."

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, 2009

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Dark, realistic read.

I've read bleak depressing books before and this one is one of them. There are a few light hearted moments but not many. Living on a farm in the 30's was extremely hard and twice as difficult if you were immigrants. This book stresses the family dynamic and without the ...
I've read bleak depressing books before and this one is one of them. There are a few light hearted moments but not many. Living on a farm in the 30's was extremely hard and twice as difficult if you were immigrants. This book stresses the family dynamic and without the cooperation of everybody then nothing would work and everybody would starve. You have Teodor and Myron (father and son) who work the fields and do the majority of the heavy duty work. Maria (the mother) and her daughters help in the kitchen and prepare food, plant seeds into the soil, and help out what's needed around the farm. Throughout the pages you just read about them working so hard to overcome harsh winters, and hot summers. It's not the most easiest work in the world.

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, 2009

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 16 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Posted August 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Dark, realistic read.

    I've read bleak depressing books before and this one is one of them. There are a few light hearted moments but not many. Living on a farm in the 30's was extremely hard and twice as difficult if you were immigrants. This book stresses the family dynamic and without the cooperation of everybody then nothing would work and everybody would starve. You have Teodor and Myron (father and son) who work the fields and do the majority of the heavy duty work. Maria (the mother) and her daughters help in the kitchen and prepare food, plant seeds into the soil, and help out what's needed around the farm. Throughout the pages you just read about them working so hard to overcome harsh winters, and hot summers. It's not the most easiest work in the world.

    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.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Dark and Depressing Read

    While this book is well written, I had a very tough time with it. As a reader, I was taken from disaster to disaster with little relief for the characters. The story is dark and gritty, and while I felt for the characters, I was also looking for more than just strands of hope. I honestly wanted to like this book. It still haunts my thoughts, still depresses me. Shandi Mitchell is a talented author - this just wasn't the book for me. I will, however, look for more of her work.
    If you like books that read like a documentary, this book is for you. If you like dark stories, this book is for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 18, 2009

    Wonderful writing and well researched historical elements made this an unforgettable reading experience.

    I especially enjoyed the first half of the book when things while harsh and realistic still seemed to be moving along towards a satisfactory story of a good family getting past horrible circumstances through strong bonds and hard work. Unfortunately things went from bad to better and then to worse and worse. I would recommend this book to people who are willing to read a dark and realistic book without any expectation of happily ever after or even hopefully ever after.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Worth a read

    This was a good book, well worth reading. Some memroable protagonists and antagonists. Some good examples of man vs. man and man vs. nature.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Mixed Review

    I finished the ARC I received through B&N's First Look Book Club over a week ago, but have been struggling since then to formulate my review. As a general rule, I enjoy historical fiction, yet I never found myself drawn to Under This Unbroken Sky in a "I can't wait to get back to it" fashion.

    Perhaps that was due to the dark, grim nature of the storyline or the documentary type style of writing Ms. Mitchell employs.

    I'm sure this story will appeal to some (or many, based upon the reader ratings); unfortunately, this one was just not my cup of tea.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Written Depressing Story

    Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell
    By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Gail_Pruszkowski]Gail Pruszkowski

    Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a beautifully written book about family, betrayal and greed - but it took me an incredibly long time to finish it. The gut-wrenching suffering portrayed in this unforgettable story made it a tough read for me. The book is broken up into seasons rather than chapters and it begins in the spring of 1938. It is the story of two Ukrainian families who escape Stalin's regime to build a home on the Canadian prairie, but the dream of a new life is plagued by obstacles from the beginning.

    Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko, his wife Maria and their five children are forced to leave their first home in Canada. Teodor keeps some of his grain to make a new start and is arrested for stealing. He is released from prison after serving two years and he returns to his family who are living in a shack on his sister Anna's land. Before he went to prison he made an arrangement with Anna to buy land in her name because a convict is not allowed to own property in Canada. Now that he is back, he intends to fulfill his part of the bargain. Maria becomes pregnant and Teodor works hard to take care of his family. He farms the land, grows wheat and builds a new house for them. Anna's drunk and abusive husband Stefan rapes and impregnates her and then deserts his family. Teodor pays Anna back and provides for her and her two children as well. Anna is deeply depressed and her attempts to miscarry are unsuccessful. When Stefan returns and sees what Teodor's hard work has produced he's determined to have the land and the house for himself. He sets the two families on a course that can only lead to a tragic outcome.

    Mitchell's debut novel is written in present tense, a style that usually puts me off but in this case, it works. The writing is so evocative and the prose so descriptive, the tense lends immediacy to the narrative. The author is adept at illustrating a point, even including a recipe for borsch at a place in the story when the family has grown a good crop and has enough to eat. There is little dialogue and yet the story flows. It's told through the viewpoints of vivid personalities that you will either love or hate. The characters live and breathe and that is what makes it such a difficult read. I experienced each hardship and oppression along with them. The violent scenes of animals being killed were painful and not for the squeamish. Anticipation of the next unavoidable tragedy would make me set the book down. I finished it because I make it a rule to do so but it's a story I could only read in small doses. The conflicts keep coming with only fleeting glimpses of happiness to relieve the misery. I don't mind dark and disturbing but this was relentless. It is a dramatic and well-written book. Shandi Mitchell is a wonderful writer but the subject matter was a real downer for me.

    Publisher: HarperCollins
    ISBN-13: 9780061774027
    Hardcover: 352 Pages
    Price: $25.99

    Gail Pruszkowski reviews for "Romantic Times BOOKreviews" magazine and her work has been published in the "Cup of Comfort" Anthologies. http://mysite.verizon.net/bookworm.gp/ http://write-juncture.blogspot.com/

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gail_Pruszkowski http://EzineArticles.com/?Under-This-Unbroken-Sky-by-Shandi-Mitchell&id=2841076

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 1, 2009

    Under This Unbroken Sky

    Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell was a well written and very detailed book about an immigrant family and their hardships. It brought you into their world and left you feeling their pain. I have never read a book like this one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gripping

    Under This Unbroken Sky, by Shandi Mitchell, is a gripping story about a family from Ukrainia that has migrated to Canada. This family goes through terrible times, first because Teodore goes to prison for stealing his own grain. Maria, Teodore's wife and the mother of his children holds the family together and also keeps Teodore's sister, Anna from collapsing emotionally.
    I found this story spell binding, but at the same time felt some of the descriptions exceptionally long and graphic. Overall, Shandi is a wonderful documentarian, and she definitely has done her research while compiling and writing this story. She also knows how to keep the reader interested and waiting to see what is going to happen to this family next.
    A good read for those who enjoy history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a bleak tale

    Bleak. That's the one word to describe Under This Unbroken Sky. The novel starts with a brief prologue revealing that by the end of the book three people will be dead. That knowledge kept me going; if I hadn't known that fact, I may have decided the book was simply too depressing to finish. Nearly every possible bad thing happens to the two families who are connected because the father of one and mother of the other are siblings. At first both families are led by women who are essentially single moms. Maria's husband is in prison and Anna's prefers the company of a bottle and other women. Despite that, they actually seem to be doing well; Anna was able to acquire land for both families. Unfortunately everything goes downhill once both husbands return. They get into a dispute over the land, there's a fire that destroys much of the property and food, and so much more tragedy. It became a little too much to take, especially because the characters were not likable. The adults were irresponsible and most of the children were brats. The one bright spot came when young Lesya convinced Maria to include a chick with a deformity similar to Lesya's own in the batch being purchased; she named it Happiness.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Under This Unbroken Sky

    I thought this was an interesting title for the book. Overall the book was excellent. The plot and characters were quite interesting. After reading this book I feel there is hope for everyone. The families went through a lot but managed to survive the hardships. Shandi Mitchell is on her way to becoming the next best author. I hope to read more of her books in the future.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2009

    An immigrant farmer's fight for survival

    Under This Unbroken Sky is a truly heart wrenching tale about Ukrainian immigrants who break soil in Canada hoping for a better life than the one they left behind. While it is a story that has been told countless times, Mitchell has put her own spin on it with her focus on a dynamic family filled with a cast of characters that will draw you in and hold your attention well after the last page has been turned. This novel is a very raw look at the realities immigrant farmer's faced as they set sail to start over, and how life was debatably worse on North American soil than it was back in Eastern Europe. Overall it's a great read and one you'll find hard to put down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 16 review with 3 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1