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Under This Unbroken Sky: A Novel
     

Under This Unbroken Sky: A Novel

4.3 126
by Shandi Mitchell
 

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The story of an immigrant family trying to build a life in an unforgiving new world, Under This Unbroken Sky is a mesmerizing and absorbing first novel of love and greed, pride and desperation. Award-winning writer Shandi Mitchell based this evocative and compelling narrative of struggle and survival on the Canadian prairie on her own family history.

Overview

The story of an immigrant family trying to build a life in an unforgiving new world, Under This Unbroken Sky is a mesmerizing and absorbing first novel of love and greed, pride and desperation. Award-winning writer Shandi Mitchell based this evocative and compelling narrative of struggle and survival on the Canadian prairie on her own family history.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"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)
Publishers Weekly

An immigrant Ukrainian family suffers unrelenting hardship on the tundra of late 1930s western Canada in this grim frontier tale. Thrown in prison for two years for helping himself to some of his own grain after defaulting on a homesteading contract, Ukrainian immigrant Theo Mykolayenko must deal with his nearly destitute wife and children. His oldest son helps to plow and plant fields owned by Theo's sister, Anna, who is married to Stefan, a wayward and violent military man. Theo's long-suffering wife, Maria, is tireless in caring for her family, nurturing the garden that feeds them and mending every stitch of clothing they wear. Meanwhile, unhappy Anna, pregnant with a child she does not want, is beguiled by the howling coyotes that surround the homestead at night. The extended family survives fire, dust storms, cold and hunger, only to face a nastier enemy much closer to home. This ambitious novel, full of the minutiae of the savage existence of a frontier family, comprises a harsh picture of lives lived in an unforgiving landscape, though some readers may find themselves wishing for an occasional break from the grinding woe. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Mitchell, an award-winning Canadian filmmaker, offers a deeply affecting account of immigrant struggles, reaching back into her own family history for the basis of her debut novel. After Theo and Maria Mykolayenko escape Stalin's purge in the Ukraine with their children, they start a new life on the sweeping plains of Canada in the 1930s. With the help of his sister Anna, who already has a homestead nearby, Theo acquires a homestead only to be beset by prairie fires, blizzards, and prowling coyotes. They work on against the odds to better their lives, but their good fortune is short-lived. Anna's good-for-nothing husband, Stefan, returns after a long absence. Stefan, the schemer, always with a deal in the works, orders Theo off his farm, then finds a loophole in Theo's homestead papers that creates legal troubles. Tragic in Shakespearean proportions, Mitchell's stark portrayal resembles Grapes of Wrath in its brutal description of immigrants' suffering and will to survive. This book will have immediate appeal to readers searching for superb historical fiction filled with tension, unforgettable characters, and a dramatic setting. VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/09.]—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Canadian screenwriter Mitchell's fiction debut tells the grimly tragic story of Ukrainian immigrants who have left the steppes for the vast, unforgiving Canadian prairie. In the spring of 1938, Theo Mykolayenko returns to his family after 20 months in prison. He's been confined for his failure to pay an $11-dollar debt, and his governmental creditors also seized his house, his barn, his tools and, three weeks before harvest, his fields of ripening grain, worth $70. But Theo is a man of fierce will and work habits. Before his stint in jail, he had already survived all sorts of miseries and privations back home, then 23 days in filthy steerage and 3 years of struggle to establish his crop. He rejoins his wife Maria, their five young children (ages 5 to13) and his sister Anna, all of whom have strived mightily to subsist in his absence, and they start over. But just when hope and the possibility of happiness sprout again in this inhospitable climate, Anna's cruel and conniving husband Stefan returns. His machinations lead them inexorably back toward tragedy-worse this time because it's caused not by unscrupulous outsiders, lenders or government bureaucrats, but by kinfolk. Not much style or literary finesse, but the family's plight is affecting. Agent: Suzanne Brandreth/The Cooke Agency
Historical Novels Review
“[An] unflinching debut. . . . There’s a love for the land and the immigrant spirit throughout the book. This is one of the finest novels I have read this year—a lyrical, evocative tale of pioneer life from an immensely talented debut author.”
Marie Claire (UK)
“Utterly gripping. Epic in scope, this tale of family feuds, violence and hardship follows the fortunes of Theo Mykolayenko, a Ukrainian survivor of Stalin’s labour camps who starts a new life in the harsh Canadian Prairies. . . . Beautifully pitched and unsentimental in execution. Brilliant.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Remarkable. . . . Mitchell’s harrowing story delivers an unforgettable literary tribute to an immigrant people and their struggle. The lyrical style, the riveting historical material, and the treatment of prejudice make the novel a great book-club choice.”
Booklist
"Remarkable. . . . Mitchell’s harrowing story delivers an unforgettable literary tribute to an immigrant people and their struggle. The lyrical style, the riveting historical material, and the treatment of prejudice make the novel a great book-club choice."
Steven Galloway
“A magnificent novel. . . . A powerhouse of a debut that grips from start to finish.”
Janice Kulyk Keefer
“Unforgettable. . . . Mitchell’s extraordinary rendering of human suffering is matched by her ability to give powerful imaginative shape to the will to survive, to care for others, and to forgive the most brutal of trespasses.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061960024
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/08/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
682,513
File size:
592 KB

Read an Excerpt

There is a black-and-white photograph of a family: a man, woman, and five children. Scrawled on the back, in tight archaic script, are the words Willow Creek, Alberta, 1933. This will be their only photograph together.

They are posed in front of a hand-hewn log granary. The adults are seated on wooden chairs, centered to frame. They are dressed in their church best.

The man, his hair clipped short, wears a white, high-collared, pressed shirt, tightly knotted tie, a dark woolen suit, and broken-in work boots. He looks like a tall man. Large hands rest on his knees. His legs are crossed.

The woman wears a dark, modest knee-length dress and low-heeled shoes with sturdy ankle straps. No stockings. On her lap is a baby, a white blur squirming to escape the woman's strong hold. He is round and fat, in stark contrast to the other thin forms.

Three sisters ordered in ascending age are interspersed between their parents. On the far end stands the eldest boy. He is ramrod-straight. Chin up. Though they all wear summer clothes, they are standing in four inches of snow.

They stare straight ahead, their eyes lost in shadows. Expressionless. Arms rigidly pressed against their sides. Holding their breath as the photographer counts: one hundred and one, one hundred and two, one hundred and three . . .

Within three years, this farm will be foreclosed. Two years later, one will die. Two others, of whom there is no photograph, will be murdered.

But this day, in the moment right after the shutter clicks shut, this family takes a deep breath and smiles.

What People are Saying About This

Janice Kulyk Keefer
“Unforgettable. . . . Mitchell’s extraordinary rendering of human suffering is matched by her ability to give powerful imaginative shape to the will to survive, to care for others, and to forgive the most brutal of trespasses.”
Steven Galloway
“A magnificent novel. . . . A powerhouse of a debut that grips from start to finish.”

Meet the Author

Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter. She spent her childhood on a military base on the prairies and now makes her home in Nova Scotia with her husband, Alan, and their dog, Annie. Under This Unbroken Sky is her first novel.

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Under This Unbroken Sky 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 126 reviews.
Sunltcloud More than 1 year ago
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.
MsReaderCP More than 1 year ago
This book explores 1938-1939 in the lives of two Ukranian families who have immigrated to Canada and are now trying to begin a new life under The Homestead Act. Besides feeling as if you are living in that era, you feel as if you meet all of the characters and live a short time in their lives. I can't help but love things about so many of them and want them to fight and struggle through some very tough times. Book clubs will enjoy themes of pride, jeaousy, sin and redemption, brokenness and rebirth, family ties and what can finally break them. This is not a light read, but it was a quick read because it was so interesting and I was drawn right into it.
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
In her debut novel Shandi Mitchell gives us a beautiful and brutal look at man vs nature and man vs man. A realistic view of a Ukrainian family's immigration to Canada in the 1930s. Ms. Mitchell is a world class story teller and her words are a symphony, very fluid, very descriptive, making your heart race one moment and bringing you to tears the next. She knows her characters intimately and it shows by how three dimensional they are, how colorful, how real. They are each memorable in their own right and you form strong opinions of them right away. Her dialogue is vivid and clear and puts you right on the prairies and through the dust storms with these courageous people. Under This Unbroken Sky is a powerful story, it grips you from the first page and keeps you craving more. It enthralls you with the family's tragedies and triumphs. Shandi Mitchell has created a wonderful piece of literary fiction that will in no time become a beloved classic.
DSaff More than 1 year ago
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.
Zeal More than 1 year ago
It is easy for one to get lost in the pages of Under The Unbroken Sky by: Shandi Mitchell. Shandi's words flow across the pages and right into your heart. An immigrant journey into a harsh new country and climate brings us closer to our past and our own ancestors. The experience is a reminder of a life and time when hard work was crucial to survival, nothing was taken for granted, and the weather had the power to destroy life in a matter of minutes. You feel and experience the hardships, happiness, and emotions of each and every character as faith, hope, love, and loyalty are profoundly tested. These characters will live on in your heart and mind long after the last page has been savored. Theirs is a story that is not easily forgotten. Shandi Mitchell's first novel is a masterpiece!
Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
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.
jb70 More than 1 year ago
Once I was into the story and invested in the characters I really enjoyed this novel, but it did take me quite a few pages to become hooked on the story. Shandi Mitchell does a wonderful job of creating the landscape of the late 1930's unsettled Candian land and the hardships faced by immigrants settling there. It gave me a great respect for people who were willing to travel so far to such harsh conditions to find a better life while also having to learn a new language and face prejudice from neighbors due to their differences. This would be a great book club read since there are so many areas to discuss and debate. The note from the author at the end makes the story even more personal. Overall a great read!
pen21 More than 1 year ago
This book is so well written. The phrasing and the mood of a setting put you in the character's eyes.I spent time thinking about the book especially after the last part of the book. The characters will stay with you. I read the ARC of the book as part of the First Look book club at Barnes and Noble. I'm not sure I would have picked this book up otherwise. But what a find. I have enjoyed this book. The Fall section seemed to slow down for me, but brought anticipation that Winter was coming with all the hardships for families at the time.There was a lot of tragedy in the book, but that is true to the time and place they lived in. I think the author gave a good account of the struggle at that time. The author joined us online on the Barnes and Noble board. What a gracious person, responding to comments on what we liked/disliked, our interpretations, etc. I think Shandi Mitchell would be a great person to meet at a signing and hear more of her insight into this book.
Fozzie More than 1 year ago
What I liked about this book is that it can be read on many different levels. The story is suspenseful and the book can be read just for that. However, there is so much more to this book. The writing style is simple, yet requires the reader to think for herself and piece together bits of information learned from various characters to truly understand what happened. There is lots of imagery and symbolism in the book, which can be noted and contemplated. The reader can learn about a time and place from a historical perspective. Lastly, the reader can become emotionally involved with the characters, who are unique and memorable.
literature More than 1 year ago
Shandi Mitchell has written an extraordinary first novel that will have you hooked from the very beginning. She tells the story of a family in the 1930's living under Stalin's ruling in the Ukraine until they are driven out. The story begins with them taking a family picture, dressed in their church best-summer clothes-in 4 inches of snow. She says that before the story has ended, one person in the photograph will be dead as well as two others not in the photograph. They are lured to the Northern Canadian Prairies by being told they have the healthiest climate in the world and farms for everyone; that it is a vast land that goes on as far as the eye can see. But it is a different story once they get there. Teodor has just returned from prison for stealing his own wheat. Maria, his wife, has been running the farm, along with and taking care of their five children and also taking care of her husband's sister and her two children as well. It is the story of how Teodor acclimates himself back into civilian life, to his family and farming and the obstacles they constantly encounter...fire, dust storms, inadequate food supply, an extremely frigid winter and the return of his scoundrel of a brother-in-law...that tests all their wits. The requirements set by the Land Office are very strict and Teodor runs the risk of losing everything. Ms. Mitchell has written a beautiful novel which deals with the hardships of settling in a new country and the problems with family members and those you can't trust. Her writing grips you from the very beginning and then only partially releases you after the story is finished. You will feel part of both the family and the land and suffer with them through all their tragedies. The characters will take over your soul and you will cry with them. It is a sad story for what they had to encounter but Ms. Mitchell gives each of the characters a drive and determination to succeed so it is also the story of hope and faith and knowing that in order to succeed one must work hard. Ms. Mitchell has put her heart and soul into the story. Under This Unbroken Sky is only the beginning. Ms. Mitchell has to continue their story so we can continue to be part of their lives.
babzilla41 More than 1 year ago
Wow - how do you hold your breath for 343 pages? This book will push your emotions to the limit. The characters become a part of you. I haven't left them behind yet and I finished reading the book over 2 weeks ago! The beautiful imagery will hook you right into the story. You'll find yourself rooting for certain family members and being enraged with others. The ending will leave you feeling stunned yet not ready to let go. An excellent read but definitely not for those who like their endings tied up in a pretty bow.
edelweissAM More than 1 year ago
Have more than one copy of this book, you will want to lend it to friends and reread it again, yourself.
JaneM More than 1 year ago
Under This Unbroken Sky is a compelling, classic tragedy in which the outcome is revealed in the first page of the novel, leaving the reader to race through to the conclusion to complete the story. Shandi Mitchell, a filmmaker, has done a courageous job of sharing the lives of two families, each bent on a path of inevitable destruction. Her ability to create word pictures carries the reader instantly into the world of these adults and children in 1938 Alberta, Canada. Two families are linked by siblings -- Teodor, a man returned from prison who works to build a new life for his family and regain ownership of his land, and Anna, the mother of the second family, married to a wastrel. We are allowed to see into the mind of each character, whether adult or child, and observe their view of the world as it is changed or confirmed by the hand of nature or the actions of others. The beauty of the writing is equal to the stark beauty of the landscape described. As in all great tragedies, pride is the key to all that comes later, with greed, envy and passion taking a second place. Shandi Mitchell has an unerring sense of how best to describe key scenes to make the reader feel fear, pain, heat, cold, madness, and ultimately the beauty, bounty and unforgiving timelessness of nature.
ssizemore More than 1 year ago
Shandi Mitchell has created a tale of survival centered on two families in the harsh and unforgiving terrain of northern Canada. Having come to Canada from the Ukraine, escaping the persecution there, the characters find themselves facing language barriers, injustices, and relationship trials that test their strength and will to survive. I read this book in the First Look program (my first time) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing style is unique and gives the reader a sense that she is watching the drama unfold. I predict that this will be an enduring bestseller.
AnnJE More than 1 year ago
A beautiful title - - lyrical prose -- I read this book for Barnes and Noble's First Look Book Club. I couldn't keep to the schedule - had to know what happened to this sad struggling family. While the story was difficult, I found hope in the end. These are strong people. A great read for book clubs - much to discuss. Thank you, Shandi Mitchell, for your heartfelt story.
debbook More than 1 year ago
I read this ARC, Under This Unbroken Sky, courtesy of Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club. This is by far the best one I have read. Under This Unbroken Sky is the debut novel of Shandi Mitchell. It takes place in 1938, in the Canadian prairies settled by many Ukrainian immigrants, who left the Ukraine during Stalin's reign of terror, searching for a new and better life. This novel is about Teodor and his wife Maria and their children, who have followed Teodor's sister, Anna and her husband, Stefan to Canada to farm homesteads set aside for immigrants. The story begins as Teodor is being released from almost two years in prison after being caught "stealing" his own grain. Teodor is not able to own land because of this and so Anna puts land in her name for Teodor to work it, until he can own it. Stefan has disappeared after raping Anna. But when he returns, Anna is hopeless against him and allows him to nearly destroy her family's life and threaten the welfare of her brother's. Maria is strong and will fight for the survival of her family. Mitchell's prose is poetic and exacting as she describes the details of this family and their hardships. From the tilling of the field, planting of the grain and the garden. "The family steps forward as one advancing line, scattering their offering in a silent, holy procession. The seeds catch the sun as they spin through the air, falling to life." While Mitchell's writing is beautiful and descriptive, it is also unrelenting as she tells details of revulsion without hesitation. A particular passage about the death of rabbits caught in snare traps, had me quickly skimming to it's conclusion. The reader gets to know of all of the book's characters, including every last child. Lesya, Anna's daughter with a disfigured leg, finds joy with a chick that has a similar deformity but fights for survival. Parts of the story are joyful and parts are heart-wrenching. This may be Mitchell's first novel, but she guides the readers' emotions like a seasoned writer. I strongly recommend this powerful and moving book.
kren250 More than 1 year ago
Set in 1937 Canada, Under This Unbroken Sky tells the story of two families at odds. Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko, his wife, and their five children are struggling to farm the prairie land they hope to someday own. Due to Teodor's recent incarceration (because of him "stealing" his own grain), he is uneligible to own land in his own name. Agreeing to help him out, his partially unhinged sister Anna buys the homestead, with the arrangement that after he pays her back the land will be his. Anna has troubles of her own, with a good-for-nothing alcoholic husband (Stefan) who has, once again, abandoned her and her two children. The trouble really starts when Stefan returns home, prepared to reap the rewards of "his" land. When I first started this novel, I wasn't sure I would like it due to the writing style. It's written in the present tense, with short and sometimes simple sentences. To me, it almost read like a screen-play, and I found it jarring the first 50 pages. Once I got used to the style, however, this book completely sucked me in. By the end of the book, I appreciated the writer's style because it fits the tone of the story so well. This is an intense read; things start to spiral out of control for the characters and you can't help but really feel for them. This book will have you reading into the wee hours of the night to see what happens. I highly recommend it, and will be looking forward to the author's next book.
bibanon1 More than 1 year ago
UNDER THIS UNBROKEN SKY follows the struggles of a Ukrainian family living in Canada in the Spring of 1938. Teodor Mykolayenko has just been released from two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain. He returns home in the hope of rebuilding his family and their dream of a better life. What follows is a heartwrenching story of a family struggling to put itself back together in the face of terrible adversity. I could not put this book down. I was instantly drawn in by this family. After the first page, you know that tragedy will befall these individuals before the year is out. As the story progressed, I looked for clues as to the inevitable outcome of the story. The characters were so well-drawn and I found myself rooting for this family to succeed against all odds. The reader shares each and every heartbreak with the characters. I found myself angry and frustrated at the end of the book not because of the story itself but because of the injustice that life sometimes offers us. I think the author put it best when she said, "the story [is] about life, in all its beauty and savagery. It was about the moral lines that divide and join us. What is remembered and what is forgotten. And the fine line between those who break and those who don't." BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. This is a very powerful and moving book. The characters are all very well-developed and engaging. A truly wonderful debut novel.
SusieH5 More than 1 year ago
This is a truly beautiful story. Anna and her brother Teodor, and their families, are Ukrainian immigrants to Canada, hoping for a better life. But life is very tough for them. Working on the land, even the youngest children have to help, and they are still barely surviving. Although much freer than in Ukraine, there are rules that must not be broken, and there are spies to report on those who do break the rules, and who are well rewarded for their information. Teodor returns from a spell of imprisonment, so dirty, exhausted and emaciated that his family almost don't recognise him. Wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive the hardships of the different seasons, as well as relationships within each family and between the two families. This is heartbreaking at times, but still a wonderful read. It was probably my favourite book of 2012.
stitchesTX More than 1 year ago
This book was our Book Club's February read. It is an interesting read about life for immigrants to the prairies of Canada. Times were tough and the author does a great job of bringing the reader into the story. Not always a "happy read".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago