Monday, February 6, 2012

The Night Sky: Denver Writer Maria Sutton Pens A Masterful True Story Of Love, War, Lives Devastated And Put Back Together


I’m tempted to say that writing a compelling, fascinating book is easy when it just so happens you have a great story to tell. That’s the case with author MARIA SUTTON, a Denver woman who was born in war-torn post World War II Germany in a Displaced Person’s camp to a Polish father and Ukrainian mother, both of whose lives had been shattered by war.

But even a terrific story still must be skillful rendering to make it a great read. I was delighted to find that all the necessary elements come together for an absorbing read in THE NIGHT SKY: A JOURNEY FROM DACHAU TO DENVER AND BACK

Maria Sutton came to America with her parents as refugees in 1951. Her parents were Paul and Julia Venckus. Maria had always assumed that Paul was her father. Then at age 13, Maria overheard a hushed conversation between her mother and a friend that tipped her off to an astounding revelation: Here real father had been a mysterious Polish military officer who had disappeared from their lives in Germany!

Young Maria was stunned!

What happened? If it was not electrifying enough to discover that your real father was another man entirely, the mystery was deepened by the oddly cyrptic behavior of her mother, who spoke in clipped but reverential tones of her lost father – when she could be coerced to mention him at all. It also became increasingly obvious that she had never stopped loving the man she was forced to abandon -- for mysterious reasons -- in favor of marrying another man, and fleeing her homeland forever.

And so begins an incredible 43-year quest for Maria Sutton to find her lost father, a man left behind somewhere in the shambles of a broken European continent. Without spoiling it, I will tell you that this is more than just a detective story involving one woman’s search for a lost father – what Maria eventually discovers penetrates emotionally to the bone. Since learning about the existence of her biological father, the author develops an idealized, personal mythology about what kind of man her father might have been, or maybe still is. Could he still be alive? What she eventually does find is – well, you have to read the book to find out!

Also at the heart of this story are some of the most fundamental elements of existence that we all wrestle with every day. You know, it's the big questions: What is love? What does it mean to love another person? Why do some people deserve or receive unconditional love, whether they have earned it or not?


Who am I? What does my life mean? Why am I here? How did I get here?

Finally, I give the author high marks for her sharp eye for detail, and that she never slips into overt sentimentality. She writes with an unrelenting honesty, not allowing herself to avert her eyes from unpleasant realities -- and all this while showing us the heroic side of humanity as well, of how ordinary folks can become extraordinary people when the world thrusts incredible events upon them.


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