Saturday, August 29, 2009

Barnes & Noble First Look Club Selection: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell

I first discovered book blogs through Barnes & Noble's First Look Book Club. One of the participants mentioned several book blogs and sources of ARCs. That was a few months and one FL Book Club selection ago.

I haven't been able to be as active in my last First Look Book Club this August, but the book selection was terrific yet again. The FL selections are always by debut authors and they tend to be books that I wouldn't have heard of on my own. I've enjoyed some more than others but these last few have been wonderful. Let me tell you more about Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell.

Canadian cover - US cover - UK cover

Synopsis, courtesy of Barnes & Noble (First Look discussions):

Spring 1938. After nearly two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Theo 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 Theo-a man who has overcome drought, starvation, and Stalin's purges--is determined to make a better life for them. As he tirelessly clears this untamed land, Theo begins to heal himself and his children. But the family's hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived. Anna's rogue husband, the arrogant and scheming Stefan, unexpectedly returns, stirring up rancor and discord that will end in violence and tragedy.


The story of Theo Mykolayenko and his family is heartbreaking and carefully crafted. Each character is well developed and tormented in his/her own way from Theo, his wife Maria and each of their children to his sister Anna, her husband Stefan and their two children. Reading Under This Unbroken Sky, it is hard to stop. The power comes from the beautiful melding of characters, events, and unforgettable writing.

If you are looking for an unusual and moving read, I highly recommend Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell.

About the Author, courtesy of her website:

Shandi Mitchell is a writer and filmmaker. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a degree in English and Theatre and then moved into film. Her award-winning shorts have been featured at festivals across North America. In 2008, she was awarded the Canada Council’s Victor Martin-Lynch Staunton Endowment for outstanding mid-career achievement in Media Arts.


Her debut novel Under This Unbroken Sky has been sold in seven countries and was simultaneously published by Penguin Canada, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (UK) and Harper Collins (US) in August 2009.

Raised on the prairies, Shandi now makes her home on the east coast of Canada, very close to the water, where she lives with her husband, Alan, and their dog, Annie.

Learn more about Under This Unbroken Sky at Shandi Mitchell's website.


  1. It seems absolutely great.!! Want to get the full information about Barnes & Noble's First Look Book Club.

  2. Barnes and Noble usually posts an announcement on their Book Club page about upcoming First Look Book Clubs. Sign up differs each time, but it usually requires a message to the administrator of the particular FL selection. The slots go fast - I just signed up for the October FL.