Sunflowers Beneath the Snow

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
332 Pages
Reviewed on 12/17/2021
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Author Biography

Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown graduated from UNC Greensboro with a multitude of degrees – majors in Elementary Education and Psychology and minors in Math and Sociology – she just couldn’t settle on one thing! While homeschooling her four children, she began her writing career by focusing on small businesses, writing articles, blog posts, and website content. She published five nonfiction self-help books dealing with real estate and finance, receiving "First Runner Up" in the Eric Hoffman Book Awards for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, finalist in the USA Best Books Awards for How To Open and Operate a Financially Successful Redesign, Redecorate, and Real Estate Staging Business and for 301 Simple Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Now, and Honorable Mention in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award for Private Mortgage Investing. In 2017, Teri began dabbling in fiction, a lifelong dream. Upon winning the First Annual Anita Bloom Ornoff Award for Inspirational Short Story for a piece about her grandfather, she began writing in earnest, and recently published Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others – especially youth and women who are having trouble discovering their worth. Teri’s debut novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, is a historical fiction set in Ukraine.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow by Teri M. Brown is a touchingly poignant novel about the devastating effect on one Ukrainian family, of one man’s small battle against the might of the Soviet Union, and in support of the struggle for Ukrainian independence. Lyaksandro Hedeon Rosomakha, a simple university librarian, had risked everything to pass on information to the Ukrainian rebels. Although the information seemed quite innocuous to Lyaksandro, he knew full well that if the Soviet Secret police were to find out, he would be tried as a traitor and he and his family would face, at best, years of deprivation in an infamous Soviet gulag. When faced with imminent discovery and offered a way out of Ukraine, Lyaksandro took what seemed to him to be the coward’s way out and accepted the offer of safe passage to England, leaving his wife and young daughter all alone to potentially face the wrath of the Soviet authorities. His wife Ivanna and his beloved daughter Yevtsye would be left behind to struggle to survive in the Soviet Union that was crumbling around itself, mired in corruption, incompetence, and economic hardship. Ivanna, a true acolyte of Soviet communism, and her educated daughter Yevtsye, a true believer of Ukrainian nationhood, would face the coming future together emotionally but ideologically poles apart.

Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is a wonderful read that looks at Ukrainian life in the latter years of the twentieth century and the simple realities of living in a managed economy where lining up for hours just to receive food to survive was an everyday occurrence. Author Teri M. Brown has created three female characters who are bound by love, as only a mother, daughter and granddaughter can be, yet are so very far apart in their views of the world. Ivanna was steadfast in her belief in the Soviet system; it was all she had ever known. Their life was never easy but, for her, it was bearable and she was resigned to her life of hard work with little reward, which contrasted brilliantly with her daughter’s independent spirit and desire to live in a free, capitalistic, and prosperous Ukraine. What I particularly loved was the incredibly close relationship that developed between Ivanna and her granddaughter, Ionna, despite the generation gap. Ionna’s journey into the world in the U.S. and her discovery that she was not as prepared for this western immersion as she had thought was definitely a highlight of the story. This novel is deeply character-driven and the author has done a superb job in developing the principal players in the story and inviting the reader to identify with and root for them, which is ultimately most authors' aim, so kudos to her for that. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and can highly recommend it.