My Sister?s Mother: A Memoir Of War, Exile, And Stalin?s Siberia

Hardcover | April 27, 2016

byDonna Solecka Urbikas

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Donna Solecka Urbikas grew up in the Midwest during the golden years of the American century. But her Polish-born mother and half sister had endured dehumanizing conditions during World War II, as slave laborers in Siberia. War and exile created a profound bond between mother and older daughter, one that Donna would struggle to find with either of them.
            In 1940, Janina Slarzynska and her five-year-old daughter Mira were taken by Soviet secret police (NKVD) from their small family farm in eastern Poland and sent to Siberia with hundreds of thousands of others. So began their odyssey of hunger, disease, cunning survival, desperate escape across a continent, and new love amidst terrible circumstances.
            But in the 1950s, baby boomer Donna yearns for a “normal” American family while Janina and Mira are haunted by the past. In this unforgettable memoir, Donna recounts her family history and her own survivor’s story, finally understanding the damaged mother who had saved her sister.

Finalist, Best Traditional Non-Fiction Book, Chicago Writers Association

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From the Publisher

Donna Solecka Urbikas grew up in the Midwest during the golden years of the American century. But her Polish-born mother and half sister had endured dehumanizing conditions during World War II, as slave laborers in Siberia. War and exile created a profound bond between mother and older daughter, one that Donna would struggle to find wi...

Donna Solecka Urbikas was born in Coventry, England, and immigrated with her parents and sister to Chicago in 1952. After careers as a high school science teacher and environmental engineer, she is now a writer, realtor, and community volunteer. She lives in Chicago with her husband.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:April 27, 2016Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299308502

ISBN - 13:9780299308506

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface                       
Map                
Introduction               
 
Part 1. The Generation between the Wars
The Haunting Past                 
Uneasy Peace             
The Interview             
Hiding            
Lost Lives Regained              
Birth into War            
Polish School             
The First World War              
Mothers                      
Walenty and Natalia              
Operation Marriage                
Cradling Death                      
The Farm                    
Uncertainty                
Train Travel                
 
Part 2. Russia and Siberia
The Lieutenant                       
The Impact                 
The Arrest                  
Family Secrets            
Soviet Labor Camp                
Majorettes and Identity                     
Prison without Bars               
The Longing               
Undeserved Beauty               
Homeland                  
Fleeting Summer Breezes and Conspiracies              
Terms of Endearment            
The Human Commodity Market                    
A Less Than Normal Childhood                    
 
Part 3. Choices and Destiny
Amnesty                     
The Fittest Survive                 
Religion                      
The Guardian             
A Man of Honor                    
Under Naked Skies                
Not Me                       
Death in Small Doses             
Like No Other            
Numbing Existence                
War and Mental Illness                      
From Here to Hell                  
 
Part 4. Bittersweet Lessons
I, as Savior?               
India               
The World at War                  
England                      
The Land of White Rice and Cinnamon                    
Forever the Farm                    
Reconciliation            
King Takes Rook                   
 
Epilogue
On Being a Mother                
 
Notes              
References                 
Index

Editorial Reviews

“A primer for all who seek to understand the harrowing journey of Poles during this fateful period.”—Allen Paul, author of Katyn: Stalin’s Massacre and the Triumph of Truth