Book Review: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

Title: Under This Unbroken Sky
Author: Shandi Mitchell
Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0061774034
Genre: Historical Fiction

From the Publisher:

Spring 1938. After nearly two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko is a free man. While he was gone, his wife, Maria; their five children; and his sister, Anna, struggled to survive on the harsh northern Canadian prairie, but now Teodor—a man who has overcome drought, starvation, and Stalin’s purges—is determined to make a better life for them. But the family’s hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived when Anna’s rogue husband, the arrogant and scheming Stefan, unexpectedly returns, stirring up rancor and discord that will end in violence and tragedy.

Shandi Mitchell has woven an unbearably suspenseful story, rich with fiery conflict, written in a language of luminous beauty and clarity.

My Review:

Beautiful, stark and vivid, Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell is a spectacular debut novel portraying prairie life in the 1930s.  The story begins in 1938 Canada when Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayneko is returning home after being imprisoned for two years for stealing his own grain.  Mitchell deftly and accurately describes not only the terror the Ukrainians faced under Stalin’s reign, but also manages to deftly describe the harrowing tale of escape and the hardships and struggles of beginning a new life in a foreign land.  The reader is drawn into life on the prairie with Teodor, his wife Maria, and their five children along with his sister Anna, her two children and her drunken and abusive husband Stefan.  Under This Unbroken Sky is masterfully written and the hardships and betrayals are so well written and vividly detailed that the reader, while not truly being able to ever know what it was like, certainly is able to grasp the sensations of the hard life that faced those moving to the Canadian Prairie.  Under This Unbroken Sky will evoke many emotions in the reader and while the story is a bleak one, the book is mesmerizing and difficult to put down.  I would highly recommend Under This Unbroken Sky to any reader, especially those who enjoy historical books, as well as to book discussion groups and this book has a lot to offer up for discussion.

About the Author:

Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter. Her short films have screened at numerous international festivals, and she is a recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts endowment. Mitchell spent her childhood on a military base on the prairies and now makes her home in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, with her husband, Alan, and their dog, Annie. Under This Unbroken Sky is her first novel.

For more reviews of the book, please follow the book tour.

I received a complimentary copy of Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.


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