"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." (starred review)
From the Publisher
In her emotionally potent debut novel, Shandi Mitchell charts the expanding rifts which threaten to tear apart a Ukrainian family as they struggle to nurture sustenance from their farm in 1930's Canada. Maria Mykolayenko somehow kept herself and her five children alive for a year after her husband Theo was imprisoned for "stealing" some of his own grain which he had used to pay a debt. Theo's return marks a new beginning for the family, who are now entrenched on the farm owned by Theo's sister Anna and her absentee husband Stefan. But just when Theo's efforts to combat the harsh elements are beginning to show some sign of reward, Stefan returns from his military duty and enacts more hardship. Soon the family members are drifting towards different sides of a divide, as the action builds towards a tragic climax which demonstrates that a family may be able to overcome endless exterior obstacles, but they will always remain vulnerable to internal strife.
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.