Reply
Distinguished Correspondent
Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Leysa storyline breaks my heart. But I think she also is a living stand in for the wild country that is trying to be tamed. It's a little lame and has it's handicaps (easily destroyed by fire, lack of ran/too much rain, dust storms, etc) but deep down is a fighter's soul and it will rebound no matter what odds are against it.

 

Leysa refuses to let her deformity be a crutch and in many ways works harder than any of the other children because of it - she doesn't spill any water and carries more than Sofia who has no physical ailments to slow her down other than lack of interest in a farming lifestyle and its duties. Her connection with Happiness is beautiful and I also hope like others have said that Happiness doesn't die as in many ways she is Leysa's only true friend and companion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
Contributor
AliceLee428
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-09-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

My initial impression of Maria is that she has become hardened by the huge challenges she has faced in her life thus far.  She is so focused on survival that there is little joy in life.  However, she doesn't give up and keeps plodding along.  She obviously loves her family and would do anything to help them survive.

 

Anna, however, has been broken by her life's circumstances.  She was once a beautiful, carefree young woman and life just was not supposed to turn out this way!  She mourns the loss of the life she was "supposed" to have and has succumbed into a deep, debilitating depression.  She is unable to care for her children (including one in her womb).   Stephen is  a cad...an alcoholic womanizer who has left the family to fend for themselves.  I particularly felt sorry for Lesya, who is not able to be a child---instead she acts as the mother of this highly disfunctional family.

 

Teodor is a good man:  works hard, treats others with kindness, and takes a stand for what he believes.   He has been to H*ll and back during his year in prison.  Slowly, he recovers and begins the backbreaking work of plowing the fields and building a home.  I was thankful that the fire spared their lives, their home and some of the crops because I don't know that Teodor would have been able to cope, otherwise.

 

While Theo's wife and children do treat one another respectfully for the most part, I just didn't feel the "warmth," perhaps because they do not discuss their feelings with one another.  Again, I think they are so focused on surviving that they don't have the time or energy to have a lot of conversations with one another.  I suppose that actions do speak louder than words, but I did not think of this as a "warm" family.

 

I was not too surprised by the fire (I figured that some sort of natural calamity was going to occur), but the dust storm was a shock! 

 

 

Frequent Contributor
fordmg
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


bookworm_gp wrote:
I have only read the introduction and first chapter so far but I find the use of present tense annoying and it detracts from the story. I thought it would be used for the introduction only and when I found the first chapter written this way I was disappointed. Does this bother anyone else? Maybe I'll get used to it as I read on.

 

No, I don't have trouble with the tense of the story.  I think past tense would make the story stilted. 

MG

Frequent Contributor
bookworm_gp
Posts: 58
Registered: ‎12-04-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

To me it sounds more directions for a screen play. Maybe because I'm so used to reading novels in past tense. And readers need to suspend belief when they read fiction. With present tense I need to believe that these situations are happening right now.

 

As I said I only read the first chapter and I do like the story. So I hope as I read on I'll become so immersed that the tense will seem more natural.

http://write-juncture.blogspot.com/
http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Gail_Pruszkowski
http://www.facebook.com/gail.pruszkowski
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bookworm_gp

Contributor
lhays
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎07-02-2009

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Maria is willing to do anything for her family. She is willing to hide the bad things that come their way to keep their innocence. She believes that God will get them through everything that comes their way.

 

Anna believed that she was going to have a great family because her dad had said that many men were not good enough for her. After she married the man that was worthy of her she found out that he killed and stole when he was a soldier. Then he left her for weeks and months at a time being with other women and came home and did what he pleased with her. All of this made her feel worthless. When she had her first child the nurse told her that the child wasn't fit to live, so she tried not to love her. Every once in while you get to see that she does love Lesya.

 

Maria's children have had to grow up quickly to help the family survive. Anna's children are lost and are very glad to have Maria to show them love.

 

Theo is a man that will work hard to provide for his family. He wants to provide for them but everything seems to happen that he isn't able to give them the life that he wants to give them.

 

After the fire and the dust storm they will still survive. They have obviously lived through worse times than that. I get the impression that this is a very tough family and can stick together through the hardships that are thrown at them.

Distinguished Correspondent
Lil_Irish_Lass
Posts: 163
Registered: ‎11-21-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


lhays wrote:

 

After the fire and the dust storm they will still survive. They have obviously lived through worse times than that. I get the impression that this is a very tough family and can stick together through the hardships that are thrown at them.


I said it earlier, but during the years where emigrants flooded into North America looking for a better life you and your family had to be strong or you died. The dynamics have changed a lot since then when more people moved into the suburbs and cities and less and less families were forced to live off of the land directly.

 

The Mykolayenkos have no choice but to pick themselves up, dust themselves off (literally in this case), and continue to put one foot in front of the other... if they give in to the grief of loosing their crop they will quickly starve to death. It's a very, very sad and hard life to live but one that seems nice to since it's simplistic and free of modern day materialistic clutter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"No sensible man ever engages, unprepared, in a fencing match of words with a woman." - The Woman in White
Frequent Contributor
shelley727
Posts: 32
Registered: ‎12-30-2007

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I really like Maria.   She will do anythng for her family and does many times.  I really like Anna too, but I also feel sorry for her. 

She seems so lost and luckily she has Maria to help her with her children.  At times it is as if Maria is more of a mom for Anna's children.  Maria is more of the caretaker of Anna too.  Anna seems very depressed and lost after her husband left her.  She's alone and pregnant and out in the middle of nowhere.  She has her brother and his wife, but I think she feels she is at her wits end.  I do hope she comes out of it for her sake and her kids. 

I remember Maria saying all will be better once Anna has her child--things will get back  to normal.  I hope that is true.  As I read that part I was thinking to myself & as much as I hate to say it...I think that Anna may come out of it for a while, but I'm also afraid that something will take her right back into that blackhole of despair.      

 

  I felt for the families towards the send of the summer chapter--it was a scary time--don't want to give anything away. 

 

I like Teodore a lot.  He seemed hard and very distant at first, but then slowly came around to his kids and Maria.  He still needs to open up more to her.  I hope he does as the story progresses. 

 

These two families barely make do and yet they seem to just go on as if they know they must for their family & themselves.  It isn't much different than families of today.  We have hit some rough patches, but we always manage to get through them because we know we have to for our family's sake. 

 

I was surprised by these two events.  The dust storm more than the fire.  I was saying to myself "How much can these families  stand?" 

 I  am enjoying these charachers so much!   I love reading the book & am going to hate it when it ends.  I don't know know about the rest of you--but I want a happy ending for these two families, but I have a feeling I'm not going to get what I want & I feel sick about that.      

Shelley
Inspired Contributor
jbnie
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Kathy, I agree with you. Spring and Summer were wonderful times for these families and I am not sure what is going to happen to them as the year progresses.  I like the fact that Ms Mitchell broke the book into seasons rather than chapters, it creates suspense for the story. It also creates a rhythm that I am enjoying

kpatton wrote:

jbnie wrote:

I liked Maria and her children when I first met them in the story. This is a woman who is devoted to her family, all of it, and does not complain about the hand that life has dealt her. Her husband is in prison, unjustly convicted, her sister in-law is depressed and un-functional. She has had to leave her mother and her country behind to start a new life, which in some ways, as bad as the one she left.

 

Anna is past dysfunctional, she is not functional. She is lucks that Maria is living with her, because without her, her own two children would have starved

 

Theo's entrance was a surprise only on that it came so early in the story. As I continued to read, I realized that  he needed to be introduced when he was. The warmth that his family had for each other and for him, did not surprise me. Love and warmth may be put aside during hard times but they never really disappear.

 

I do not know how they made it through without so much, I doubt that many families today could survive  in the way that they did. This part of the story illustrates the fact that living off the land is not a glamorous way to live and not easy. Anything can destroy crops, food and people  Until the garden came into harvest, the family, especially the children are malnourished. I was surprised that there was no system in place in the government to catch this. In light of how well they were doing when they started to eat regularly, the fire and the dust storm are more awful.

 

To survive these two seasons was remarkable.

 

Jane 


Jane, This is so well-stated

 

I have read other books that tell stories of early farming in the prairie states and again the story of living day to day and facing all types of disasters is very common.

 

I am interested in the way Ms. Mitchell has divided the book into sections based on seasons of the yearSo far we have read spring and summerIn many ways the lives of Maria and Theodor parallel the seasonsTheodor returns (spring) and begins to resume his life with his family- gaining strength, creating a new crop and beginning the building of a new home (summer).  Maria is planting a garden to feed her family, she becomes pregnant (spring) and her family moves into their new home (summer).

 

I am a little concerned if this is true what Fall and especially Winter holds for them.

 

Kathy


 

Inspired Contributor
jbnie
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


ladybug74 wrote:

I am thoroughly enjoying this book so far! It was hard to put it down at the end of this section to wait for the discussion to begin. I'm so excited that I can now move on and start reading the next section. I expected this to be a good book, but it is even better than expected. I have already checked to find out if there were any other books by this author and found that this was her first. If there are more in the future, I will definitely be reading them!

 

My first impressions of all of the family members were good, except for Anna's husband. I did not get a very good feeling about his character.

 

It does seem that my first impressions about the family members hold true, except for Anna. I was hoping that she would be stronger than the first impression that I had of her, but the more I read the more I am seeing the severity of her depression. Anna is on the verge of being psychotic at times. Anna's marriage has failed because her husband is not the type of man who she thought he was. He has raped Anna and each of her children is a reminder of this. On top of the fact that she was raped by her husband, their first child was born with a physical disability. While this was going on, her brother was in prison so she basically had nobody else to turn to. 

 

I assume from what I read that Maria and her children ended up living there due to Theo's imprisonment. The book mentions that Anna and her husband had helped the family out when they were in need. 

 

When Theo first arrived, I thought his children might not remember him (especially the younger ones.) I was not really sure what to expect from him, though. He did have a bit of a rough entrance back into his home, but this is understandable considering he had been wrongly imprisoned for a while and had not been around his family.

 

My own family was raised in the Southern U.S. and they did have some hardships back when my grandparents were growing up. I have heard stories from them about how hard times used to be for them. One of my great grandmothers used to think we were wasteful for throwing out used Ziploc bags. I can remember my shock when I observed her washing them out and putting them in the dish drain to re-use. She lived through the depression, so she did not waste anything. She saved spools, used plastic bags, and just about everything else that you can imagine because she didn't know when times might get hard for her again.

 

My dad's mother was widowed with 2 young children at an early age, so she also had to live through some really tough times. She worked in a sewing factory and could hardly feed her family on the small amount of money that she made. 

 

The demands on this family include building a home large enough for the family to live in comfortably, planting crops, tending these crops, and picking and putting away the crops once they are ripe. I knew that children had to help their families in the fields during this time period. My own grandmother told me how she used to have to put my mom on a blanket under a tree so she could help her family pick cotton when she was young. (She had my mom at the age of 18.) Though I knew about these things, it was still a bit shocking to read about how hard these children had to work, especially the oldest boy.

 

I was surprised that this family had so many calamities in such a short period of time, but I think they will survive by sticking together. Some of the family's crops had already been put away (in jars?) so maybe some of this food survived in their home. They also have a little of their wheat to harvest and sell or to grind into flour for the family to eat. There is also the possiblity that Theo and the boys could hunt for wild animals to feed the family. The dad could find work outside of their home or the family could even sell the few possessions that they have to make ends meet. 

Message Edited by ladybug74 on 08-03-2009 10:25 PM

 

Well said. There is a growing movement in this country to live off the land, and shun the use of Air Conditioning, and embrace all things deemed to be "pure". Both Shandi Mitchell's and your story should;d remind us that progress is not necessarily a bad things and that the life that we enjoy now, is in many ways easier than life was in the 1920'sand 30's. Jane
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I have to agree with Lil_Irish_Lass about Leysa.  She might be my favorite of all of the characters.  She's a smart girl - she sees what her father is and what her mother has become and doesn't trust any of them.  She works hard and does her chores - I wish she lived in the big house on the hill instead of with her family!
Correspondent
m3girl
Posts: 194
Registered: ‎03-02-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I've been scanning through the discussion - and am not sure if anyone has commented on the fact that this story is written in the Present Tense - not the usual Past Tense.  I find that to be an interesting choice and perhaps one of the reasons why it was so easy to get into - as it is so immediate - you as the reader are right there as the things are happening.

 

Susan 

Wordsmith
Anna_Louise
Posts: 238
Registered: ‎06-17-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

Susan:

 

How true!  I did notice that as well and I think that's part of the reason you're so drawn into the story and can picture everything as though you were there with the two families.

 

Anna

Distinguished Correspondent
JaneM
Posts: 152
Registered: ‎02-01-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


Read-n-Rider wrote:

I realized I couldn't remember what we had been told about Anna's life before Maria and Teodor and family arrived in Canada, and I wasn't sure how I felt about her.  On the one hand, it was easy to dislike her because of her seeming weakness and apparent neglect--both physical and emotional--of her children, and on the other hand, I admired her for taking Maria and the children in after Teodor was imprisoned and for applying and paying for the homestead agreement on the land for them.

 

I reread pages 17-22, which tell some of her history.  It is interesting to read that she had been eager to come to Canada, had looked forward to the adventure and to starting a new life.  She was already disillusioned with Stefan but not beaten down by him.  I also realized that they had been in Canada for some 11 years when our story begins--they were childless when they arrived and Lesya was 10 years old when Teodor returned from prison.  Furthermore, at that time, Stefan had only been gone from the farm for about 3 weeks ("twenty nights" ), though there had been absences of varying lengths from time to time before that.  Since Maria and her children had been with Anna for some two years, Stefan must have been present much of that time.

 

I wonder how Anna was able to establish the homestead for Teodor and family; did she have money of her own?  Did Stefan know and approve of her actions?  Furthermore, had Stefan and Anna successfully farmed their land for all those years before Teodor and family arrived in Canada?  It would appear so, but hardly fits with our image of Stefan; or did I miss some important information in doing my "research?"  Anyway, I came away with a somewhat higher regard for Anna than I had before.  She has been brutalized by an evil man and scarred by two terrible birth experiences and seems unable to cope with life and fulfill normal adult responsibilities.  However, she does exhibit loyalty to her brother and his family and does what she can to secure their future.  It will be interesting to see how her own future develops.

 

Joan

 

Message Edited by Read-n-Rider on 08-05-2009 11:21 PM

 

Joan,

I really liked your comments about Anna and it helped me see her in a more favorable light.  I can see where 11 years with Stefan could break your spirit but I also wonder how Stefan kept the farm going.  Now that I think about it, I can't quite put the time line together.  If Anna has been with them for two years, why would this be the first garden she created?  What were they eating before?  I'm going to have to go back through the first sections to see if I can make sense of it.


Jane M

Jane M.
Contributor
readslots4
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-02-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I was reading other posts and realizing that I didn't say anything about Lesya.  Her character is one that you can really connect to when it comes to perseverence.

 

The biggest thing that comes to my mind with Lesya is all the possibilities for her.  She is so intriguing that you just imagine all the things that she might become.

 

Inspired Contributor
kren250
Posts: 76
Registered: ‎01-01-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


bookworm_gp wrote:

To me it sounds more directions for a screen play. Maybe because I'm so used to reading novels in past tense. And readers need to suspend belief when they read fiction. With present tense I need to believe that these situations are happening right now.

 

As I said I only read the first chapter and I do like the story. So I hope as I read on I'll become so immersed that the tense will seem more natural.


 

I thought the same thing! Not only because of the tense, but because the short and sometimes simple sentences Mitchell often uses. At first it annoyed me, and I wasn't sure how I'd like the book. I felt like I was reading either a children's chapter book, or a screen play. By page 80 or so I had gotten used to of it, and now it doesn't bother me anymore.
kmn
Reader 2
kmn
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎07-02-2009
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I love the way the characters are building.  I feel I am really getting to know them.  I haven't read ahead, but it has been hard to wait to read the next chapters.  I am anxious to see how the families get through the hardships.
Distinguished Correspondent
biljounc63
Posts: 189
Registered: ‎11-02-2008

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I found it interesting when Katya thought that the host was actually the Body of Christ and was afraid that it would run out so she spit out it out and saved it as a "dough ball". She did try to save it from the fire and is ended up dissolving in the water as she was escaping the fire. She thought that she had killed Christ. You never know what children pick up on and believe. I remember as a kid in the 60's that any music played on the radio was being preformed on the live at the radio station.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
Wordsmith
literature
Posts: 499
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer

I agree with you about the passage she wrote about on page 83. 

Shandi transported us into the moment with the use of adjectives, colors and feelings so we could feel the sky, the land, the fire, the weather, the people the same way that she "stood in the endless fields" when she needed to remember details.  She felt everything and transmitted it to us through her words.  She set the scene, brought us into the moment and that is why everything in UTUS seemed so real to us. Thank you, Shandi.

 

 

Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Early Chapters - my thoughts


 

Did anyone try the recipe?  I'm rather keen to.

 

Interesting that neither Anna nor Teodor join in the prayer.


Haven't tried it yet, but hope to before the end of the month. If you whip it up, please post your results!

 

 

And a question based on that last observation: Does anyone find any family resemblance anywhere between Ann and Teodor?

Moderator
Rachel-K
Posts: 1,495
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters: Spring and Summer


biljounc63 wrote:

I found it interesting when Katya thought that the host was actually the Body of Christ and was afraid that it would run out so she spit out it out and saved it as a "dough ball". She did try to save it from the fire and is ended up dissolving in the water as she was escaping the fire. She thought that she had killed Christ. You never know what children pick up on and believe. I remember as a kid in the 60's that any music played on the radio was being preformed on the live at the radio station.


 

Yes! This was both comic (because the ball of spit-welded dough is a bit gross) and heartrending because it's such a truly genuine and brutal disappointment for her-She's so literal, so young!