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De tragische lotgevallen van de familie Mikolajenko

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  1,102 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
In het voorjaar van 1938 keert de Oekraïense immigrant Teodor Mikolajenko terug uit de gevangenis en treft zijn vrouw en kinderen volledig berooid aan op de Canadese prairies. Terwijl Maria zich onvermoeibaar bezighoudt met de zorg voor de schamele groentetuin, het eindeloos verdunnen van de aardappelsoep en het verstellen van de tot op de draad versleten kleren, bouwt Teo ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 2010 by Orlando (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Heather
Wow. This is a tough one. Not because I didn't like this book-- I loved this book-- but because it was so gut-wrenching at times that I question: Did I enjoy it?

But the verdict is "yes", for the most part, I did enjoy it. Even though there were moments in the book when I would sit with the book held in my hands, still closed, and take a deep breath and prepare myself to read on. Because I knew. I knew what was about to come was going to be hard to read. And I dreaded reading the words, even thou
...more
Connie
This is an immigrant story of struggle and survival in the Alberta prairie during the Depression in 1938. After escaping from Stalin's purges in the Ukraine, Teodor Mykolayenko is jailed for two years for stealing his own wheat on his first Canadian farm. His wife and children move to the prairie of northern Canada with his sister. Teodor joins them later, works the land, and builds a house and barn. But his sister's greedy husband returns, and is bent on driving Teodor away. How much suffering ...more
☕Laura
I absolutely adored this book. It is the story of two families whose lives are linked through land and kinship, one family eroding day by day, step by step, loss by loss, the other fighting to hold on to some sense of joy. It is the story of immigrants, of the great depression, of the Canadian prairie. I found the writing just beautiful; simple yet imbued with meaning. I felt deep emotions as I read this book -- fear, anger, joy, sadness and love -- and was absorbed in the story from start to fi ...more
Diane  Holm
Apr 13, 2011 Diane Holm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The struggle and tragedy that befell the Ukrainian immigrants to Canada is portrayed with gut wrenching precision. This story may be fictional, but the truth behind its telling could be repeated by those who lived and died in similar circumstances.
Ms. Mitchell jumps into the story with an overload of characters that are a challenge to keep clear. The first few pages appear difficult, leaving the reader a little lost. With the passing of time, the story unfolds like a movie and individuals emerge
...more
Kellyreaderofbooks
Set in 1937 Canada, Under This Unbroken Sky tells the story of two families at odds. Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko, his wife, and their five children are struggling to farm the prairie land they hope to someday own. Due to Teodor's recent incarceration (because of him "stealing" his own grain), he is uneligible to own land in his own name. Agreeing to help him out, his partially unhinged sister Anna buys the homestead, with the arrangement that after he pays her back the land will be hi ...more
Cathrine ☯
Apr 19, 2016 Cathrine ☯ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of Ron Nash, Kent Haruf, Willa Cather
5★
The reader is warned on page one that there is tragedy ahead yet I was completely cast within its dark spell; almost impossible to put this one down. The story unfurls depression-era prairie life in northern Canada — where Fall is Winter and Winter is something else, paying homage to Ukrainian immigrants, their mistreatment and suffering, the often devastating struggle to survive. A granddaughter of immigrant farmers myself, in my comfortable home and circumstances I sometimes mourn the passin
...more
Linda B
Aug 24, 2009 Linda B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Under This Unbroken Sky is the story of the families of Teodor, and his sister Anna, Ukrainian immigrants to the northern Canadian prairie. Set in 1938, farming life on the cold prairie was harsh and their very existence was a struggle to survive.

Drought, greed, starvation, child abuse, murder, rape, - Incredibly dark and depressing you struggle through their daily hardships with tragedy after tragedy. The descriptions in the book are well done, but I did not care for the mostly present tense w
...more
Sandy
This debut novel by Canadian author Shandi Mitchell packs quite a punch! The blue sky and billowing prairie clouds which grace the cover of one edition of the book and the innocent teacup dangling from a cup-hook on the dust-jacket of another edition belie the power of the story within.

The cover image of a vast prairie landscape inspires in me a sense of awe and wonder and evokes memories of joyous childhood summers in Saskatchewan visiting relatives. Although the beginning of the story -- a de
...more
Glorialaihuang
This may be the first distinctly Canadian book I've read in awhile. (I mean, I love Margaret Atwood, but as far as I know, she hasn't come out with anything new recently.) The story takes place in Alberta, Canada (!!) during the Great Depression, and follows the lives of a Ukrainian refugee family who have fled their home and settled in the bitter, unyielding prairies. When the book begins, the father has just been released from prison, where he served a sentence for stealing a bag of grains tha ...more
Julie
Sep 18, 2009 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: NY Times
Such a beautifully written, un-putdownable story of a Ukrainian immigrant family struggling to settle a homestead in the prairies of Alberta. It is some of the best storytelling I've read this year- full, rich characters, suspense and drama without melodrama, historical accuracy without pedantry.

I had to remind myself while reading that this was set in 1938 and not the 1870's. The families in the novel lived hand-to-mouth, farmed, built their homes, and lived their lives without electricity or
...more
Cherie
The stark and emotional story of a Ukrainian immigrant family in late 1930s Alberta, Canada. Hardship, hunger, and hard work are the main theme. A brother and his wife and family toil to make a home and a life on land signed for by the man's sister. The brother-in-law, consumed with greed and jealousy leaves his wife and children, comes back and tries to get control of the land and new house to sell them. His wife, broken by her husband's cruelty and emotionally detached from her children surviv ...more
Christine (booktumbling)
Jul 19, 2009 Christine (booktumbling) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!!!
This book is…wonderful, tragic, joyous, disturbing. It made me smile, cry and want to scream in anger. I fell in love with certain characters and despised others. It has been a while since a book has sparked so many emotions. Ms. Mitchell’s writing is so vivid, stark, truthful, beautiful and painful. I could hear the wind, smell the grasses during the spring and summer and feel the quilts the children slept under during the harsh winters. Each character in this book came alive in my mind. They a ...more
Alexia561
Jul 16, 2009 Alexia561 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 stayin
...more
Ian
May 31, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical novel set in Canada's northern prairies in the late 1930s. Ukrainian immigrants Teodor Mykolayenko, his wife Maria and their five children have escaped the oppression of Stalin's Soviet Union and settled on a homestead in western Canada. Having served a two-year sentence for stealing grain that belonged to him, Teodor returns to his family, which includes his sister Anna and her two children, and with demonic resolution sets out to clear the land and ensure his family's future in this ...more
Quiltgranny
Jul 07, 2009 Quiltgranny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
The tension building in this novel was superb. It would build slowly like a roller coaster going up, up, up....but then it would coast a bit before building up, up, up again. The interim periods emphasized the bleakness of the families conditions in Canada as homesteaders, poor and foreign as well as outcast. I would have to say that as a debut novel, this one takes the best ribbon!

The story of Teodor and his sister Anna, along with their families struggle on the northern Canadian prairie in 19
...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 18, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
This novel had me glued to it until I finished it in one sitting. We follow Teodor Mykolayenko and his family from the spring of 1938 until the spring of 1939. The Mykolayenko's are immigrants from the Ukraine, who have settled in Alberta.
Teodor has just returned to his family after a year spent in jail for stealing his own grain. His wife and children have been living in a shed on the land of his sister Anna and her family. Anna has agreed to pay the fee to homestead the land beside her own, wi
...more
Sharon
Jul 31, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star
I was immediately taken by this book, especially by the prologue's announcement that one person in a family photo will die and two people not there will be murdered. This had me wondering all the way through who these people would be and why -- an effective way of keeping the reader engaged. My interest never floundered and while the book was terribly sad -- almost devastating -- the writing was often rivetting with some brilliant description and action, and Mitchell really brought to life the h ...more
Cheryl
Jul 28, 2011 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian, fiction
Great. Little House on the Prairies, for grown ups. Used a great device, right at the beginning of the book. She described a family photo taken in 1933, and said that 5 years later, one would be dead, and two of which there was no picture, would be murdered. The book then starts 5 years later. So you are wondering the entire time who and when the characters were going to die. It pulls you along through the entire book. You are waiting — is it now? — at every point in which you could imagine a de ...more
Annet
Apr 01, 2010 Annet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without a doubt a beautifully written book, a gem, about a Ukrainian farming family, Maria and Theodor and 6 children in wild Canada of 1938 fighting to survive, setting up a farm, in a dramatic relationship with father Theodor's sister Anna and her spiteful husband Stefan. Nature scenery described with a great love of nature, but describing the harshness of winter season out there alone, rationing food and fighting to stay warm and alive. A book full of love for family and life, and a dramatic ...more
Page (One Book At A Time)
4.5 Stars! This book was wonderful. You couldn’t help but be involved in every characters struggles. I don’t usually speed through books like this, but I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know if what the conclusion would be. I don’t know how a book that has such an unhappy ending can leave me feeling like I just read one of the best book I’ve picked up in a long time. I will look forward to reading this author’s next book.
Maya Panika
A bleak, violent and utterly depressing tale of a Ukranian family in Canada. Tragedy after tragedy rains down on the poor immigrant family who barely get to take a breath before the next murder/drought/rape/robbery/pogrom/disaster hits them.

A finely written book, probably true to life (the author produces documentaries) but too unremittingly austere and depressing for me.
Pamela Pickering
Stark, introspective narrative about the hardships of an immigrant family in Depression Era Canada. The story is told through the voices and viewpoints of many family members. Normally I would find this one a little too tragic for my taste but I think the writer did an exceptional job of keeping me engaged and she really tapped into my emotions: sympathy, sorrow, frustration, anger, and others.
Nancie
Nov 18, 2009 Nancie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
first time canadian author writes about a young family from the ukraine trying to make it on the alberta plains at the turn of the century.follows the struggles of man vs nature and man vs man in a well written page turner.
Jess
Feb 23, 2010 Jess rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd give it a 2.5
It was a good story, I just never got that "hooked" feeling. Powerful in it's own way.
Deborah
This was definitely not a "happy" book by any stretch of the imagination, but it gave insight into the extreme difficulties facing Ukrainian immigrants in Alberta during the Depression years.
Karen
Aug 11, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stark story of an immigrant family in 1930s Alberta - it's well written and a page turner but it's a sorry and tragic tale.
Liz Keegans
Mar 11, 2017 Liz Keegans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this story! I loved all the characters; even the ones I loved to hate! There were so many layers to "Under This Unbroken Sky" but the author did a great job intertwining them and I never felt lost or confused. The author dealt with the harsh realities of immigration in the 1930's and the sheer fortitude of those immigrants. The author described the discrimination faced by immigrants, the demanding laws for incorporation and the language barriers faced by whole families. It's truly amazin ...more
Pjs_books Sather
This is a beautiful book that I dreaded reading--because I so hated and feared the tragedy that was to come--and that left me devastated.

My mother, born at about that time (1935) to Ukrainian homesteaders in Northern Alberta, strongly recommended it to me as an utterly accurate description of her life (the circumstances, of course, not the events). For me it carried me back to childhood visits when my grandparents still lived and farmed on their homestead.

But you needn't share the same backgro
...more
Molly Burtle
Way too depressing about Ukranian immigrants in Canada. The writing was good but I couldn't finish the book.
Valorie
In the north Canadian prairie lands, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko was sent to prison for two years for ‘stealing’ grain that he cultivated. When his family, which includes five children, could not pay for their land, they had to vacate it despite all of the work already done on it. When Teodor tried to take some of the grain to replant somewhere else in order to give his family the start they needed, he was imprisoned for theft. With him gone, his family had no choice but to make ends ...more
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“In the twilight of dawn, when his ears are still fresh to the day's first sounds, he can hear clearer than at any other time of day. He turns his head back and forth, cocking his ears to each direction. Sometimes, he closes his eyes to listen better. He hears the branches cracking from the frost, the groan of the snow beneath his feet, the rumbling of the lake ice, the timber in the house shrinking and shifting, sometimes he thinks he can even hear the clouds sliding across the sky.” 0 likes
“He loves being the only one walking through the night. The snow catching the moon's reflection casts a blue-white sheen. He doesn't feel small in this vastness. He feels as if he can expand as far and wide as he can see. He breathes deeper out here, walks taller. This is where they'll bury him. Under this unbroken sky.” 0 likes
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