One of the strongest Canadian historical fiction works I've read.
A life of pride. A life with land. A life where no one dies of hunger or ravaged by a sickness made strong by malnutrition and overwork. That is Lesia and Ivan's dream, and they've convinced their parents to move to Canada to pursue it. But they're Ukrainian, and Canada isn't convinced it likes immigrants who are peasants in places far from England.
This book about an immigrant's pioneer story is a refreshing addition to the Little House genre. It adds a layer of gritty reality to the rose-coloured glasses too often worn by authors looking at the era when we broke the prairie sod.
Lesia is refreshingly active in this book. Not someone taken on the journey by her family, she's driving them forward, hustling for food, shoveling the dirt, harvesting the plants. She and her brother Ivan have the idea to leave the Ukraine that changes her family's lives, and the sense of responsibility that she labours under is well-written.
I think the mixing of the pioneer story with the internment camps of WWI adds real interest. The prejudice in this story against the Ukrainians is staggering, and yet handled deftly. I never once felt crushed by it.
I'd highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good novel to complement a study of North American history. I'm glad to have found a book that covers so much ground for my Manitoba unit study!