September 2009 Indie Next List
“Set in 1938 in the unforgiving northern Canadian prairie, this debut novel is the story of a Ukrainian immigrant and his family, who find another ruthless war to fight. Mitchell weaves a haunting debut story with characters that sit in your soul, poignantly exposing their love and betrayal, strength and frailty. A stellar piece of storytelling that has you from beginning to end.”
— Helen Markus, HearthFire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO
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 to survive on the harsh northern Canadian prairie, but now Teodor a man who has overcome drought, starvation, and Stalin's purges is determined to make a better life for them. But the family's hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived when Anna's rogue husband, the arrogant and scheming Stefan, unexpectedly returns, stirring up rancor and discord that will end in violence and tragedy.
Shandi Mitchell has woven an unbearably suspenseful story, rich with fiery conflict, written in a language of luminous beauty and clarity.
“A magnificent novel. . . . A powerhouse of a debut that grips from start to finish.”
-Steven Galloway, author of the The Cellist of Sarajevo
“Unforgettable. . . . Mitchell’s extraordinary rendering of human suffering is matched by her ability to give powerful imaginative shape to the will to survive, to care for others, and to forgive the most brutal of trespasses.”
-Janice Kulyk Keefer, author of The Ladies' Lending Library
“Remarkable. . . . 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.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“[An] unflinching debut. . . . There’s a love for the land and the immigrant spirit throughout the book. This is one of the finest novels I have read this year—a lyrical, evocative tale of pioneer life from an immensely talented debut author.”
-Historical Novels Review
“Utterly gripping. Epic in scope, this tale of family feuds, violence and hardship follows the fortunes of Theo Mykolayenko, a Ukrainian survivor of Stalin’s labour camps who starts a new life in the harsh Canadian Prairies. . . . Beautifully pitched and unsentimental in execution. Brilliant.”
-Marie Claire (UK)