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What People Are Saying About Ashes

What People Are Saying About Ashes

Susan Tunge writes:

The Ashes of Innocence should have a place in every home for everyone to read and understand the life of an innocent child shattered in such a brutal way. A heartbreaking journey that humbled me beyond my apprehension. Tesluk`s courage to carry on for a better life is admirable, her forgiveness and love for those who never were capable of doing the same is courageous. Her magical pen is seldom, a page turner. I read the book in a matter of 2 days at a time when I had some health issues, and I was grateful to have The Ashes of Innocence to help me through. Her life journey should be made to a Motion Picture for The World to see, as I am certain that many have had similar journeys.

Ashes of Innocence will stay with me for as long as I live.

The Ashes of Innocence
A Memoir
By Alexandra Tesluk

5 star ~ O. Kaczmar, Los Angeles, CA

I cried through the first half. If this story didn’t have a happy ending, it would never have been written and no one would have known the horrors Tesluk went through as a child. There was no government agency to pull her out; no neighbors; or any family member that came to her defense. And through the torment, she grew to become her own champion. This is a very inspiring story for all to read; especially those parents who have spoiled children who whine about their name-brand clothing, their cell phones and their inability to cope with trivial, nonsensical problems, especially those we see on TV. We see plenty of criminals spotlighted because they had a bad upbringing. We rarely see on TV someone who has gone through hell and came up a winner. Recommended for a TV movie.


5 star ~ Inspiring…. May 31, 2008 ~ Debra Gaynor, Hawesville, KY, USA

This is an emotionally-charged book. Alexandra Tesluk’s childhood was one of abuse; it almost broke her spirit, but not quite. People with less resilience would have shattered under the cruelty she lived with daily. The story begins by describing life with a cold and distant mother and brutal stepfather. She continues by sharing information about her relationships with her sister, ex-husband, son, and daughter, etc. Throughout her life, she searched for her father. He was her hope in the darkest of times. She imagined him speaking with her, holding her and loving her unconditionally. Alexandra Tesluk found the peace of forgiveness.

Tesluk is a courageous woman. I hope she discovers the truth of her father someday. The Ashes of Innocence is an intimate look inside the life of a DP. We have heard and read of the cruel treatment of the Jewish people in the death camps, but rarely do we hear the story from this angle. Tesluk writes in a conversational style. I felt as though I was sitting with a friend and she was sharing with me.


5 star ~ Tesluk used the strength of human spirit to survive and find peace.

G.Hamilton, Birmingham, Alabama

Tesluk narrates a grim but touching story of her life which began in a war camp in Germany. The story relates over many decades how she searched for her beloved but mysteriously absent moja tato (Ukrainian for Father). The very personal rendition of day to day life upon arriving in Canada and surviving a childhood of misery at the hands of a stepfather is powerful. The story continues with the ups and downs of life’s many challenges through young adulthood and beyond which the author manages to overcome purely through strength of character and spirit. Ultimately the Love for her own two children becomes the true reflection in spirit of the Father she never knew but whom she’d turned to metaphorically throughout her life seeking advice and direction.


5 star ~  Amazingly Heartwrenching ~ Judith Hrynenko, Langley, B.C.

How does one person hold so much power over another? This is what I wrote about Auschwitz after visting there this spring. The same goes for Ashes. My heart was broken in two as Alexandra endured so much pain during her childhood, into her teens and adulthood. I am angry at her mother for not holding her tight and keeping her safe from the one person who tried to break her spirit and soul. Somehow she grew into a beautiful and strong woman. Knowing that the one person who loved her from bafar would never see her again, Tato! I believe that her greatest dream made her a stronger woman, she can thank her father Andreas for that. Without him she never would have surrvived. Deep down inside he is with her every moment of their lives. I am proud of Alexandra, she threw caution to the wind and wrote her compelling story. She is an inspiration and an amazing woman.


5 star ~  Heart Rendering ~ Elaine McBain, Elliott Lake, Ontario

Tesluk’s story is heart rendering. Her ability to find the strength to share her journey with everyone is wonderful. Its an opportunity for others who have shared a journey similar to hers, to find peace and to know they are not alone. It’s a wonderful story. The Ashes of Innocence opened the door for me to understand four of my girl friends who lived through the war. All four are from Germany and surrounding areas. I will share this book with them. These friends suffer still from their early childhood fears. Being Canadian, I never experienced these fears. It’s hard to understand but Tesluk’s book really opened a window for me to see into what they have experienced. I feel it is a must read book. If Tesluk’s father is alive or looking down from above, he is a richer person for having a daughter like Alexandra.


5 star ~  Inspiring ~ Amanda Thoburn, Toronto, Ontario

It amazes me that a person can go through such hardships and maintain such a powerful love for people. A lesser person would have been warped by the cruelty of their life but Alexandra through it all became a strong and beautiful person with such warmth and love that it flows through her words in her book. Her story is inspiring and gives hope and strength to those who have the similar dream to learn about unknown family. This story is truly written with such passion and love that the reader cannot help but feel every emotion Alexandra goes through. She gives women the strength to look at their own lives with a forgiving eye and expose the beauty and love behind it. Your story is beautiful Alexandra. Thank You.


5 star ~  A must read book!!! Peter Anton, Winnipeg, Manitoba

“The Ashes of Innocence” is a book that I found extremely touching on a personal level. It tells of Alexandra Tesluk’s quest to find herself and the struggling journey she took throughout her life to become the woman she is now. She will take you along that journey from the roots of her childhood as a displaced person in Germany during WW2. Then further through her adult life, leaving no stone unturned. She will tell it like it was; regardless how dismal the situation may be. With the help of her strong faith, courage and hope, she has become a true survivor and set a wonderful example for others like herself. This book is a must read and I truly believe some will not only find it difficult to put down, but want to read it more than once. May God bless this wonderful woman for telling her story.


5 star ~ A Must Read! C. John, Toronto, Ontario

The Ashes of Innocence is an autobiography which takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions throughout an incredible journey with Alexandra as she struggles to overcome the continuous challenges that face her. As Alexandra grows from infancy to adulthood, a sense of protectiveness and inspiration grows within the reader. This story is sometimes shocking and overwhelmingly sad, but above all, it is a powerful story about survival and the willingness to succeed against all odds. It depicts the innate need for all of us as humans to belong. The strength that familial security and ties bestow on us. Lastly, this book reinforces that it is never to late to begin to search for answers you’ve always wanted. Answers that can begin our own personal healing and closure, no matter how few or how many years we’ve got behind us.

p.s. as often as I thought about wanting to sit down and write to you, I think I’ve written you a hundred times (in fragments) in my head. From Ashes your past experiences helped me to understand how you came to be such an incredible woman; so full of compassion and with such a great capacity to love so many people; how far you have gotten and how if at all, the difficulties were to put your memories and feelings together in order and perspective. I’m so very proud of you for following your dreams and your heart. I know I’ve said this many times before but I truly admire you as a woman, mother, wife and dear friend. You are a very special person in my life and I thank God our paths entwined in this life time. You have been a gift to me and one I’ll always treasure.


5 star ~ A must read ~ Katherine Stewart, Calgary, Alberta

A poignant and beautifully written memoir. The author faced many obstacles in her young life but persevered and is living proof that we all have the ability to make positive changes. It depicts a child who later became a confident ,strong woman. A page turner that will tug at your heartstrings.


A dark and moving memoir, July 7, 2008

4 stars ~ D. McCue “Bigskeeter” (Norman, OK, USA)

“The Ashes of Innocence” is a dark and moving memoir told by Alexandra Tesluk. The words flow off the page like they were spoken directly to you by a beloved old aunt and charged with such a wealth of detail and feeling that gives the story an intimate and intensely personal quality.

Retelling her life story from her first childhood memories, Alexandra uses words from her native language as spice to develop a depth of expression, as a child would, growing with fresh discoveries in vocabulary and context. She is fatherless. Her “moja tato”, her father, has vanished in the chaos of World War 2 and the shadows of the Iron Curtain that followed. Rather than disappearing into Stalin’s Soviet Union, Alexandra’s mother moves the family to Thunder Bay, Canada, to face a life as a “DP” (displaced person).
When her mother marries the owner of a small boarding house, Alexandra gains a violent, alcoholic stepfather. Unable to escape her own sense of displacement, Alexandra is betrayed, abused and abandoned. Her alienation is beautifully rendered in emotional snippets adrift in the timeline of her life. She writes with a desperate foreboding that hems in her experiences, stitching one awful circumstance to another.
With so many places and ways to lose faith, somehow she never did, so from the crackling shell of childhood emerges hope and empowerment. In adulthood, with its own highs and lows, sincerity and authenticity, Alexandra finds a truth – some things lost are lost forever. Innocence is replaced with grim determination and resolve to break the vicious cycle of abuse and loss. Though she never quits searching for the father she lost so long ago, she does find companions who help her. With their help and a guiding belief in the fundamental worth and dignity of all human beings – the long struggle to make a broken little girl whole once again is complete. Alexandra discovers herself and a lifelong, fulfilling love.
“The Ashes of Innocence” is a story that emphasizes the complexity and uniqueness of human beings, as creatures of self-image and choices, finding understanding through their search for meaning. It has a subjective touch that is both delicate and devastating. It may be too intense or subjective for some, but for those who can hear Alexandra speaking through these pages, this is a journey is worth taking.

3 star ~ Raw and real, July 1, 2008, D. Elkink, Alberta, Canada

I just closed the back cover on Alexandra’s memoir. Having met her recently while on vacation in Mexico, I was interested to read about her life, and found her story moving. Physically looking at her self-composed expression and regal carriage (exactly like the “Viking princess” one of her loves described her as), I’d never have known she’d undergone such traumatic experiences and emotions. I sensed her courage in the self-exposure of writing a memoir; the book was obviously therapeutic for her to write.
I usually avoid reading books that so explicitly unveil personal pain journalled for the purpose of emotional cleansing, finding the catharsis of others less interesting than tightly crafted fiction. But fiction this is not! The rawness of Alexandra’s real-life experience did grip me as a reader, and the transparency of her pain did find some resolution in her triumph over it.
The book’s photos are great and helped me picture Alexandra’s realities and clarify the timeline somewhat. Several of her descriptions are photos in themselves (the wind stripping the skin from her bones, p.8; her pregnant mother’s belly distended with hope, p. 254). I ached with the horror of her step-father’s abuse, with her early sexual experiences, and with her disappointments in life (sister’s relationship, mother’s failures)–these fed into the tension that kept me reading. I came to understand in a new and deeper way the situation of the “DP” (displaced person)–and even to understand a couple of my friends raised by first-generation immigrant parents.
The role of faith in Alexandra’s life was of deep interest to me. She refers often to praying and to the Catholic Church, and it seems to me that her view of God was formulated by her view of her absent father. This is an area that could stimulate discussion amongst readers of Ashes of Innocence, and might be a fruitful subject for Alexandra’s future writing. I’d particularly recommend this book to anyone who has immigrant friends or who wants to know more about the inner workings of making a new life in a new country.

5* ~ Truly Gripping!! Jamie Holland, Georgia, USA

The Ashes of Innocence was far different than I expected. I had the feeling that it was going to be a bit dry, telling of war camps and repression. While it did those things, it also read like a gripping suspense novel! This book draws the reader in. It captivates your attention and doesn’t let it go. I found myself unable to sleep. I read the entire book in one (long) evening. Three days later, I started reading it again!

There are elements of this book that stir your emotions. The writing style is such that it awakens you to the hard truths that surround us all every day while we are enjoying our own lives. There are those suffering – right now, always. It’s painful to know, but so true. The author certainly was dealt far more than her share of torment. Molestation, beatings, hunger, suicide, alcoholism, belittlement, and repression of every sort all were placed on Tesluk, and all before she was even old enough to begin school.
This isn’t a story of complaint or defeat though. She overcame all that tried to crush out her life. She found strength. She exhibited courage beyond belief. The recurrence of her intent to be united with her father links the subthemes of the story together in a heartwarming way. In the end, she is liberated. She emerges victorious having fought many enemies – both human and non.
I truly haven’t read such a fine book in many years. I can’t recommend it strongly enough! It is definitely a story that all people should read – young and old, male and female. There are lessons here that everyone needs to embrace. The most significant fact about the book is that is all true. It seems impossible, but it is based on her life. If the author reads this review, I hope that she understands that she has presented the world with a fine gift. Read this book!

Your Book: Valeda Schedin, Ashburnham MA

Absolutely riveting! Having had a pretty uneventful childhood myself and secure in a large family with a Mom and Dad at the helm, it was a jaw dropping read for me. Little Alexandra’s experiences will stay with me for a very long time but I think you’ve gone back and hugged her so often that she is secure in her existence and has caught up with adult Alexandra. I shared your loss of Deborah Ann because my own first born, Lisa Ann/1959 died when she was three months old. Equating the adoption to death was right on. When you found Deborah Ann, I felt such a sense of happiness for you. Your search for your Dad is so frustrating – have turned the book over to my husband of 51 yearsand he has now joined the search – doubt if he will be any more successful than you or anyone else – but he does have loads of time and a little experience in searches and who knows…..

And having received the news of your remission, I say ‘congratulations’ – it is, undoubtedly, your strong will that is working for you. You continue to come out on the other side of adversity a little strong – if that is possible – and that in itself amazes me.

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Heartbreaking and Fulfilling  ~ all in one novel!
The Ashes of Innocence
By Alexandra Tesluk
I recently had the honor of reading an amazing memoire. The Ashes of Innocence takes you through the writer’s life from war torn Europe to a not so peaceful life in Canada. During the voyage through this novel you feel her pain of missing the father that she longed for. You can feel her anguish as she pulls you through her abuse and the ignorance of a woman she calls mom.
Although abuse is not in the majority of children’s lives, I was able to relate. I cried when she cried, I felt the pain of every lashing she endured. Alexandra’s memoire is a must read. This novel will open one’s eyes to the subtle clues of abuse of children and women. All the signs she displayed during her life should have been recognized by others who blatantly chose to dismiss them.
The Ashes of Innocence is heartbreaking and fulfilling all in one novel. I would recommend this novel to anyone who has a strong desire to learn of life on the other side of the not so normal fence.
Valerie Bowen
Author of the For the Sake of Amelia series

March 18th, 2012

James Alexander review of The Ashes of Innocence ~ stars 10 out of 10

A story about a dark past, one that is not easy to come by but is not unheard of, Pain, Grief, Betrayal such things that everyone of us can relate to in some form, With each page turned we see the character, we see the pain, The journey to find someone whom to this person was \”Unknown\” and Anonymous, but considered very important despite the lack of information, We follow our hearts and where they lead us we do not always get what we want, but all that matters is that we tried.

I rate this book 10/10