Book Review: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell | Alexia's Books and Such: Book Review: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Book Review: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

Book Review: Under This Unbroken Sky | Alexia's Books and Such Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper (September 8, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061774022
ISBN-13: 978-0061774027


Rating: 4/5
Source: BN.com First Look Book Club




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.

My Review:

This was a different type of book for me, totally outside of the normal genres I read. This may have been why it took me so long to finish it, as it was straight fiction. At first, I wasn't going to participate in the BN.com book club because the synopsis didn't appeal to me. However, I decided that the book was probably worth reading or it wouldn't have been chosen for the club, so I might as well give it a shot.

My hunch was right as this was an amazing book! Not amazing in the sense of staying up all night to find out what happens next, but amazing in the sense of beautiful, descriptive writing that really brought the story to life and made you care what happens to the characters.

The four adults, Theodor, his wife Maria, sister Anna, and Anna's husband Stefan, couldn't be more different. Theo and Maria are hard-workers who take care of their family and provide a home full of love. Anna seemed weak, married to a worthless, drunken bully and neither of them acted like responsible adults. I really felt sorry for their two children.

And the constant hardships they faced took my breath away! I always find myself rooting for the good guys to have a happy ending, but life doesn't work out that way and neither does this story. The ending took me by surprise, but made total sense. I'd recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fiction and appreciates talented, beautiful writing.

8 comments:

  1. This is not really my kind of read, but you make it sound as though I would enjoy it. :) Great review!

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  2. This isn't really my type of book either, but you do make it sound good.
    It sounds similar to one I read recently that had a German family who migrated to America and faced prejudice in WWII. I can't remember the name though.

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  3. This book sounds wonderful -- I've never heard of it before. Thanks for your excellent review! It really piqued my interest.

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  4. I'm glad to read another positive review of this book. I really enjoyed it, especially the way it was written. Great review!

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  5. Hi, Alexia! Thanks for this very wonderful review. I love books that discuss these themes. Have you read Netherland by Joseph O'Neill?

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  6. I have read about this one before and I think it sounds wonderful! (Actually I think I read about it on Ryans blog!)

    This one I am going to have to watch for!

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  7. Krista & Pam - This really isn't my type of book either & I doubt I would have read it if it wasn't for the bookclub. Am glad I did, as I was really impressed with the writing and liked the characters!

    Laughing Stars - I love your name! I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

    Ryan - Agree with you that I enjoyed the writing! Will have to keep an eye out for Shandi's next book, as she's incredibly talented.

    Peter - Will check out Netherland, as I'm not familiar with that title. Think I'm going to try & broaden my reading horizons even more! *L*

    Sheila - Would love to hear what you think it you read this one!

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  8. This book sounds fantastic! I'm going to add to my TBR list and keep my eyes open for it. Thanks for the review.

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