Lesia’s Dream

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Fifteen-year-old Lesia can hardly bear it. She and her family must leave their beloved Baba in their Ukrainian homeland to flee to Canada. Dreaming of wealth, security and fields of wheat, Lesia looks forward to a life in Canada free from poverty and rumors of war. But the 160 acres of hardscrabble prairie look nothing like the wheat fields of her dreams. And even though there is no fighting in her new country, World War One follows them there.

Winner of the 2006 Kobzar Literary Award
Shortlisted for the Rocky Mountain Book Award
Shortlisted for the Snow Willow Award
Shortlisted for the Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award

What People Are Saying

A moving and memorable account.
– The Winnipeg Free Press

This excellent book deserves a wide audience.
– CM (Canadian Materials) Magazine

….a compelling novel that ended all too soon.
– The Brantford Expositor


“This is it!” With a sweep of his hand Ivan showed them the cancelled homestead they’d laid claim to. Papa stood proudly beside him.

Shifting Sonia from one hip to the other, Lesia stared at the scrubby poplars and aspens, the thickets of shrubs blooming with dainty flowers, the prairie grass that grew almost to her knees, and rock, so much rock!

It was unbroken and wild. But it was theirs. All theirs.

“The house is near the clearing,” Ivan said, leading the way.

While the sun hinted at warmth, a light dusting of frost still clung to the ground. Lesia walked carefully, crunching over rocks and twigs, brushing against the prairie grass with her skirt. She thought of Paul’s farm with its rolling fields of wheat, its immaculate thatched roof cottage, and its garden overflowing with spring greens and strawberries and small beet seedlings.

But the Korals had been in Canada thirteen years.

“That’s it,” Ivan pointed. “The house.”

Mama gasped. Lesia’s eyes widened in shock. It was nothing more than a burdei, a log and sod-brick dugout.

It had a sloping, lopsided roof, a hole in one wall where a window was supposed to be, and another larger hole just waiting for a door. One side had been roughly plastered with clay, but tufts of grass poked out the other side like hair standing on end.

Lesia felt light-headed, faint. Nothing had prepared her for this.

“It’s not much yet.” Papa added quickly. “But with such a thick layer of soil, it will be cool in summer and warm in winter. And it’s ours,” he finished proudly.

“It’s bigger than it looks,” Ivan said.

Mama began to cry. “I want to go home.” She sank to her knees. “Back to Ukraine.”

“We won’t be in it for long,” Papa murmured as he comforted her. “A year at most.”

“That . . . thing,” Mama’s hand shook as she pointed to the little dugout. “Isn’t fit for . . . for chickens.”

Papa wrapped an arm around Mama’s shoulder. “Once we clear the land and plant wheat, we’ll build a proper house. With lots of windows.” Lesia could hear the desperation in Papa’s voice.

Clutching Sonia’s head to her breast, Lesia looked around the clearing. There was a small clump of logs on one side, and a clump of willows on the other.

“The creek’s down there.” Ivan gestured to his left.

Nodding, Lesia gazed beyond the clearing, looking for something, anything, to reassure her. But there was more scrub, more tree roots, more rock. Certainly not the great riches she had imagined.

What had they done?