The book begins with the turmoil plaguing her family and relations in the Ukraine before and post-WWI, progressing into the chaos of four years of the Russian Civil War. Maria is born in a small village with the country under communist control. As a young girl, she suffered hunger and starvation in the Holodomor in 1933 in the Ukraine, a made famine authorised by Stalin. This was followed by the terror purges carried out by the NKVD. After a short period of peace came the German invasion and occupation. She was selected by the Germans for slave labour, where she was sent to Germany to work in an ammunition factory. She escaped to Magdeburg and lived in German society under an assumed name. Here she experience the horror of allied bombing and consequent firestorm. With the end of WWII, she was liberated by the Americans who handed her over to the Soviets. From the Eastern block, she escaped back to the West to meet up with her future husband. In the small German town of Goslar, she married, and in time, she had a son. For four years, the family lived in Germany as displaced people with the constant fear of being repatriated to the USSR. Eventually, New Zealand opened its door, and a month-long voyage by sea eventually landed the family in a strange land halfway around the world. Life in New Zealand presented its own problems to foreigners who had little to no understanding of the English language. But by hard work and much sacrifice, she achieved her goal of owning a house and a growing family.