OUTLOOK - Without even opening a page yet, I already knew that what I was about to read in 'To Find Myhailo' was going to be special and from the heart.
That's because the book was written by the late Larry Warwaruk, a celebrated author from Outlook who had generated a deep-rooted following over the years with his many literary works. Larry passed away in June 2017, so this particular book is something of a heartfelt project from his family to the reading public.
In a change of pace, Larry's last work reads more like an autobiography of sorts, stepping in the direction of the author's own historical reality and away from Warwaruk's memorable forays into fiction. This is perhaps appropriately so, as it gives readers a deeper insight into who Larry was from a background perspective, and the end result may see the reader gaining a deeper appreciation for the late author. I know that I did.
Myhailo Warwaruk was in fact Larry's distant cousin from Ukraine, and as we read in this book, Larry is determined to uncover his story and learn all that he can about him. The journey that the story takes us on peels back the layers on who Myhailo was, including during the Second World War. In doing his research over the course of a number of years, which included several trips to Ukraine, Larry begins to tell the tale of Myhailo for readers, and also takes the time to reflect on the history of Ukraine, and what it means for the author himself to be Ukrainian.
'To Find Myhailo' is part biographical, part history research project, and part family tree discoveries. These kind of ingredients make for a very interesting read, and I don't think there was any other book that could have completed Warwaruk's legacy as an author. By doing such a deep dive on his own background and committing it all to words on paper, Larry is pretty much telling his readers, "This is who I was and this is where I came from. I hope you can all take something from it as you all turn the pages on your own stories in life." It says a lot about Warwaruk for being so open about his research and his findings, and the result makes for a very intriguing read.
With the book's manuscript left in the family's hands after Larry's passing in 2017, they committed themselves to making it a reality, enlisting Wayne Kallio to help with editing and formatting. Meanwhile, Stephen and Natasha Warwaruk helped with proofreading, and Raquel Simonson created the artwork that makes for the book's eye-grabbing front cover.
Before diving into the book's contents, readers will see the following message from Larry's daughter Varina that explains how this novel came to life.
"During his final weeks, as our father rested, he often held this manuscript; adding a note, taking away a word here or there, weaving the story of Myhailo, and of himself. It was his final wish - to have this book published. 'Myhailo', he whispered, the last word he spoke to me. Now, here it is, in its published form. For you Dad, I love you."
'To Find Myhailo' is available where books are sold.