Under This Unbroken Sky

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Under This Unbroken Sky

by Shandi Mitchell

Penguin Group Canada | September 1, 2009 | Hardcover

Under This Unbroken Sky is rated 4.25 out of 5 by 4.

In the spring of 1938, Teodor Mykolayenko returns to his family after a year spent in prison for the crime of trying to feed them. His wife and children have been living under the care of his sister Anna on the harsh and unforgiving prairie landscape. Channelling the great inner power that enabled him to survive drought, starvation, warfare, and Stalin’s crimes in Ukraine, he takes to the land with unbending resolve, and as the crops grow, his family heals and strengthens.  But the family’s hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived when Anna’s rogue husband returns with an unforgiveable plan that threatens to take away everything they have built.  A novel about family, pride, the resiliency and fragility of the human spirit and the fine line between those who break and those who don’t, Under This Unbroken Sky is a magnificent piece of storytelling from a remarkable new voice in contemporary literature. 

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.25 × 6.5 × 1.18 in

Published: September 1, 2009

Publisher: Penguin Group Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067006808X

ISBN - 13: 9780670068081

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling tale of heartbreak and triumph. There have only been a few books that have impacted me as much as this one has and I have read many. Knowing what it was about at first didn't interest me but when I heard Shandi Mitchell read an excerpt from it I was intrigued. A book about a family growing up through the depression written by a Canadian screen writer I knew it would be one my mother in law would love but didn't sneak a a read in first like I often do. When she finished reading Under This Unbroken Skyshe passed it along and I was between books so started reading it. I remained skeptical, I'll be the first to admit, and even found the first page read like a script but to a movie I'd rent so I continued to read. I am so grateful I did. Through the eyes and minds of a family trying to find their place in Canada after their escape from Ukraine. I almost immediately fell in love with Teodore and his family, slowly discovering what makes them a loving family and grow closer through their hardships. And then there's Anna's family and I just loved her children and thought the arrangement was perfect in so many ways but wanted them each to have their own home, still so close to each other. But Under This Unbroken Sky: A Novel wasn't all new growth, rebirths and magical seeds. It was back breaking labour, crop burning fires and alcoholic abandonment. It was a tale that made the characters seem like your neighbours in that the are more than 2 dimensional. As the saying goes, no matter how bad a day you're having someone is suffering from worse. And no matter how good or bad a person seems to be, they each have their own qualities that will have you question your own values. And although it may seem corny for some, the only thing that I would have changed in this whole story is the name of one of the characters introduced near the end of the story. Thanks for writing this, Shandi. Welcome to the world of novel writing one. You certainly made a big splash for your first one! And thank you for reading, Sarah Butland author of Sending You Sammy, Brain Tales - Volume One and Arm Farm
Date published: 2012-08-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Bleak Yet Compelling Read A beautifully written story of a Ukranian family who come to homestead in the Prairies during 1938. Initially it was such depressing reading I wondered if I would actually get through the book. But though the story moves slowly - gradually we get to know the Teodor and Maria - and their 5 children, as well as Teodor's sister and her family. The story is rich with detail about the enormous challenges which faced homesteaders as well as the love, tragedy , strength and weakness of the characters. As I got further into the book, I found I could not put it down. This is a magnificent book - a story which gave me much insight into the difficulties of creating a home on the praires in 1938. This beautiful, depressing and haunting story will stay with me for a long time. Not for the easily depressed , nor a beach read, but a magnificent read.
Date published: 2010-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievably Fantastic Having grown up on the Prairies this book was everything and more. I have not read such a moving and powerful book like this one in a very long time. Although some would find this book depressing that is the way it exactly was on the prairies. Very little joy because it took all you had to survive. I did not want this book to end, I cannot recommend it enough. Shandi's writing makes you feel as if you are exactly right there with the cold biting through your jacket. I think Shandi deserves an award with this book and can hardly wait for her next one.
Date published: 2009-09-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dark, bleak , yet beautiful at the same time 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.
Date published: 2009-08-14

– More About This Product –

Under This Unbroken Sky

by Shandi Mitchell

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.25 × 6.5 × 1.18 in

Published: September 1, 2009

Publisher: Penguin Group Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 067006808X

ISBN - 13: 9780670068081

From the Publisher

In the spring of 1938, Teodor Mykolayenko returns to his family after a year spent in prison for the crime of trying to feed them. His wife and children have been living under the care of his sister Anna on the harsh and unforgiving prairie landscape. Channelling the great inner power that enabled him to survive drought, starvation, warfare, and Stalin’s crimes in Ukraine, he takes to the land with unbending resolve, and as the crops grow, his family heals and strengthens.  But the family’s hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived when Anna’s rogue husband returns with an unforgiveable plan that threatens to take away everything they have built.  A novel about family, pride, the resiliency and fragility of the human spirit and the fine line between those who break and those who don’t, Under This Unbroken Sky is a magnificent piece of storytelling from a remarkable new voice in contemporary literature. 

About the Author

Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian director and screenwriter. Her first short film, Gasoline Puddles, received the Drama Prize from Canada 's National Screen Institute. She has been a creative and producing partner in Emotion Pictures, where she collaborated on the critically acclaimed feature films The Hanging Garden and Beefcake. She recently won a Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Achievement from the Canada Council for the Arts for her upcoming feature film, The Disappeared. Mitchell spent her childhood on a military base in the prairies and now makes her home in Nova Scotia.

Editorial Reviews

"Under This Unbroken Sky is a dazzling novel. Shandi Mitchell''s depiction of Depression-era prairie life has a vividness and veracity that brings to mind Willa Cather''s fiction, but Mitchell''s voice and her rendering of the human heart''s complexities are completely her own. She is a writer of immense talent. - Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena
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