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De tragische lotgevallen van de familie Mikolajenko
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De tragische lotgevallen van de familie Mikolajenko

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  838 ratings  ·  203 reviews
Evocative and compelling, rich in imagination and atmosphere, Under This Unbroken Sky is a beautifully wrought debut from a gifted new novelist.

Spring 1938. After nearly two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko is a free man. While he was gone, his wife, Maria; their five children; and his sister, Anna, struggled t
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published 2010 by orlando uitgevers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,053)
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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
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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
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
Diane A Brown
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
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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
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
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Linda B
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
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Quiltgranny
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
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Alexia561
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
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Christine (booktumbling)
Aug 06, 2009 Christine (booktumbling) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Shonna Froebel
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
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Ian
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
Julie
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
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Sharon
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
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
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
Karen
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.
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.
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.
Ryan G
I had this book lying around for a few weeks before I picked it up. Once I did I was ashamed of myself for waiting as long as I did. I found it to be beautifully written. Each word was chosen with care in order to express exactly what it was the author chose for us to know or understand. I could clearly picture in my mind how it would be to live on the Canadian Prairie, how much strength and will one needed to posses to survive.

As far as the story itself I found it to riveting. The family dynami
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Nancie
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.
Jane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nora Littell
This was an okay book--not the best writing, at times a little too dramatic (Mitchell is a screen writer after all). Sometimes the moments (meaning descriptive snapshots) were too abrupt, syntax choppy (short sentences for an unnecessary dramatic effect). It would be more elegant in pictures, film, than it is in words. Also some of the characters were not really relatable or well-developed, especially some of the children. They were too cliche. But the story is gritty and unexpected and unknown ...more
Itasca Community Library
Asra says:

This is a heart-wrenching story, which makes it unsuitable for the faint-of-heart. In its reading, you glimpse everyone’s burdens: the weight of the world in Teodor; a mother’s relentless worries in Maria; a child’s innocence and confusion in Ivan; a young man’s struggle towards manhood in Myron; unworthiness due to a birth defect in little Lesya; an emotional abyss in Anna; chilling selfishness in Stefan. Having developed such vivid characters, you cannot help but root for this family
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Barb
This was a first novel by Shandi Mitchell and I thought it was well written, and it left me thinking about the characters for days. Escaping the Stalin regime, these Ukrainian immigrants make their way to Germany and find the Canadian embassy, where they get passage to Alberta. This is also during the time of prohibition and the depression in North America, and their cultural differences make for some added hardship.

This is not a happy novel, but nonetheless, the window into that world is eyeope
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Lindsey
Oct 08, 2014 Lindsey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lindsey by: John-eric
Beautiful, yet heart wrenching. At times I couldn't put it down, and at other times I had to put it down, because I didn't want to read what was coming next. Such strong and different, well developed characters with such different voices. I will continue hearing them after finishing the last page. And an ending that I didn't see coming. Well done Mitchell.

This is the story of a Ukrainian family that escapes the turmoil of Ukraine in the 1930s only to encounter a hard life in the Canadian prairie
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Theresa Southam
Mitchell says in a postscript interview "My grandmother never spoke of the past. She died when I was a teenager." This perfectly mimics my history. She goes on to wonder "how many other women's stories had been lost and what it could have been like to live in a time of no social or psychological support, no rights, no financial means--would I have been strong enough?" I wonder the same thing and then I think about today. Although financial means and support are available women still live in oppr ...more
Lindsey
Under this Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell might be the saddest book I've ever read. It also might be one of the most beautifully written. It is the story of a family of Ukrainian immigrants living on a homestead in Canada in the 1930s. Teodor's sister, Anna, takes out the homestead and shares the land with his family while he spends two years in jail for stealing grain. The story begins with his return to the family. As he turns their fortune around, one tragedy after another befalls the family ...more
Banafsheh Serov
In the spring of 1938, Theo Mykolayenko returns home after a year in prison for the crime of stealing grain to feed his family. Having escaped Stalin's Ukraine, Theo refuses to be beaten. Unable to purchase land under his own name, he comes to an arrangement with his sister to buy a quarter land in her name with the understanding that he will pay her back once the grain is sold. Theo takes to the land with unbending resolve, clearing, ploughing and harvesting grain. As the first shoots sprout an ...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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