‘A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian’ by Marina Lewycka

You get to choose your friends, but not your family. This is a funny and wise human story about family that is very readable, and, you get to learn a little about tractors along the way!  There are all kinds of collisions in this novel, none involving farm vehicles. There is culture clash, a generation gap, and sibling rivalry. There is the poignancy of caring for the elderly and how (understandably) fiercely the aged resist giving up their independence.

Two feuding sisters, Vera and Nadia, must band together when their elderly father decides to marry a young Ukrainian immigrant less that half his age. Is he being used by this buxom young lady to achieve immigration status, or is this more than a marriage of convenience? The sisters are bound and determined to figure it out, even if it means working together.

Underneath the hilarity of the main story, there does lie a sobering undercurrent of how what a family has suffered or endured in the past, does affect who they are today. The history we get from our family stories is a rich heritage we would do well to pay close attention to.

A couple of noteworthy things I learned about the author which will make sense if you read the book – she was born in a Ukrainian refugee camp in Germany, and she has written several non-fiction books about caring for the elderly.

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