Review: Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown

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Last Updated on March 30, 2023 by Mary Elle

I didn’t get what I expected from Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.

And just what did I expect? I’ll get to that. But first….

I didn’t realize this before I read the book, but Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is actually a debut novel. So obviously, this is a new author for me.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ve probably noticed that I like to learn some things about the authors that I read. You know, who are they, really? What makes them tick….so to speak!

This author, Teri M. Brown, is still virtually unknown to me. However, I loved one thing about her that I already learned just from reading her bio. In 2020 she and her husband rode a tandem bike across the United States from Oregon to Washington, DC raising money for Toys For Tots. I absolutely love the physical challenge that they undoubtedly gave themselves, along with their making a decision to get out and do something for the greater good during some very difficult pandemic months. I applaud them both for a job well done for very worthy cause.

Now let’s get on to “Sunflowers.”

Review of Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

sunflowers beneath the snow

As I previously mentioned, I didn’t get what I expected from Sunflowers Beneath the Snow.

The truth is, I didn’t know what to expect because this book, which takes place between 1973 and 2021 is set in a rather later time period than what I usually read in historical fiction. And, it’s set in a region that I’m not all that familiar with.

The reality is that Sunflowers Beneath the Snow gave me much, much more than I ever expected, and I’m so happy I took the time to read this book.

Publisher’s Synopsis of Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

A Ukrainian rebel. Three generations of women bearing the consequences. A journey that changes everything.

When Ivanna opens the door to uniformed officers, her tranquil life is torn to pieces – leaving behind a broken woman who must learn to endure cold, starvation, and the memories of a man who died in the quintessential act of betrayal. Using her thrift, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, she finds a way to survive in Soviet Ukraine, along with her daughter, Yevtsye. But the question remains, will she be strong enough to withstand her daughter’s deceit and the eventual downfall of the nation she has devoted her life to? Or will the memories of her late husband act as a shadow haunting everyone and everything she loves, including Ionna, the granddaughter that never knew him?

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow – What I Liked

I love family sagas, especially in historical novels, and Sunflowers Beneath the Snow didn’t disappoint on that score. The book takes us through the lives of 3 generations of women who experience difficulties in their lives that most of us can’t even imagine. As I was reading the book I could almost feel the strength that each of these women had and how they coped with their lives under the most trying circumstances.

This was an educational book for me because I really didn’t know anything much about Ukraine during the years covered in this novel. Although this is a work of fiction, the book is based on real events – the Ukrainian fight for independence, the Soviet occupation of Ukraine, and the Russian invasion of Crimea. I didn’t especially think this would be an interesting topic for me but once I started reading the book I really found myself being caught up in the story and the historical events portrayed in the book. This brings me to the next thing….

What an exceptionally timely novel. While I was reading the book, I couldn’t help but compare what was happening with the fictional characters in Sunflowers Beneath the Snow to the real-life people who live in Ukraine now, amidst the current war with Russia and the heartbreaking tragedies occurring daily.

Finally, although the subject matter, in general, is certainly difficult at times, in the end, this book is about family, hope, courage, and perseverance and when I finished reading it I felt strangely uplifted in some way despite the struggles portrayed in the book.

The bottom line here is that I think Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is an inspiring book in more ways than one.

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow – What I Didn’t Like

There isn’t much that I disliked about this book. And the few things I’m going to mention are not the fault of the book in any way!

First, it’s difficult to know how to pronounce some of the names of the characters. I like to know the correct pronunciation of foreign words and names when I read them, if at all possible. Not a bit deal – just a personal quirk of mine! I’ve seen some authors include a pronunciation guide. I would welcome that 🙂 For me, sometimes I get distracted too much if I have to think about how to pronounce the names.

Next, although this section is for “things I didn’t like”, let me be clear here that Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is a complex, compelling and thought-provoking read that I definitely loved. However, that being said, because this book is complex and covers a period of history when bad things certainly happened, it’s not a feel-good book. At least not all the time. There are definitely parts of the book that didn’t make me feel good. Not because the book isn’t good. But because the events that are being described weren’t always good. Does that make sense?

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow – Read, ReRead or Reconsider

And now, for my 3 Rs of book reviews. Should you Read, ReRead or Reconsider Sunflowers Beneath the Snow? What is my honest opinion about this book?

A definite Read!

I highly recommend Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, and I can’t wait to find out what’s next from this promising author, Teri M. Brown.

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