"Willow Creek, Alberta 1933" is scrawled in pencil on the back of a black-and-white photograph depicting a man, a woman, and five children looking serious and uncomfortable in their Sunday best. The photo was taken five years before the foreclosure on their farm, five years before anyone would die. Two others, who don't appear in the photograph, will be murdered. But on this day, when the camera's shutter clicks, the entire family looks up, takes a deep breath, and smiles.
\ \ Released from prison after a charge of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko returns home. While he was away, his wife, their children, and his sister, Anna, struggled to survive in the harsh northern Canadian landscape. Teodor, who has endured injustice, war, and Stalin's purges, is determined to forge a new life for his family, and his land is rich in fertile soil. As he works tirelessly, his family's newfound happiness begins to erase his nightmarish memories. But when Anna's estranged husband returns, their new life is threatened once again.
\ \ The story of an immigrant family trying to gain a foothold in an unforgiving landscape, Mitchell's first novel captures life in all its savage beauty. A harrowing account of love, greed, and the morality that unites and divides us, Under This Unbroken Sky is a compelling and extraordinary portrait of human dignity and the will to survive in the face of almost unbearable adversity. \ (Holiday 2009 Selection)