A fact-based tale of the horror and brutality of war – and the compassion and courage hidden in us all to fight for survival...and salvation.
The Russian Army has invaded its long-time foe, Finland, while pursuing the German troops fleeing from Hitler’s self-destructive attack on Russia. Aimo Kekkenen and the children of his village are put on a train for Nilstad, Sweden – and safety. But not for all. Aimo’s sister finds a warm, loving home with Constable Sten Valheen and his family; but Aimo is taken in by the Blixdals: the Reverend Björn, a sadistic, egomaniacal collaborator; and his desperate, loveless and childless wife, Karen. And the remaining refugee children who are not taken in find themselves trapped in the hell of the town orphanage. The question isn't whether Finland will survive to welcome home its lost sons and daughters – but whether its sons and daughters will survive to return home.
In Sunpath: The War Orphan Train, Aimo, his sister, cousin and best friend are torn from their idyllic lives in the countryside of Finland and thrust into a maelstrom. They are the "Finska Krigsbarn" (Finnish War Children): the estimated 70-80,000 children evacuated to neighboring Scandinavian countries, mostly to Sweden, throughout World War II. At war’s end, over 15,000 evacuees never returned home – and of those who did, most did so to parentless lives.
Based on author Michael Maryk's interviews with survivors and local research, Sunpath is, at its heart, an examination of the good and bad in all people and the too-soon shattering of childhood innocence – a theme sadly familiar in our world today.
"I won't mince words. I was simply overwhelmed by Sunpath. This is not a good work, it is a great one, and I expect it to be nothing less than a smashing success." Steven Gorelick, Director, New Jersey Motion Picture Commission
"With the force, but not the bulk, of a Russian novel, Michael Maryk has interwoven the themes of separation, loss, endurance, irony, fate and the darkness and light of the human spirit. As a tear-streaked reader, I closed the book wiser and richer." Dr. Stuart Brown, President, Center for Authentic Play
"Sunpath: The War Orphan Train draws a vivid and disturbing image of war and the price that innocent victims play. It is a reminder of the tragedy of war and the humble lessons that somehow humanity never learns. Well done!" Leon Panetta, Director, the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy
"Sunpath is most enlightening. It paints a great portrait of the ravages of war on the family and human spirit." Bud Yorkin, Producer, Bud Yorkin Productions
"Writer creates word artistry. There are times in a civilized society that we seem to forget the horrendous imprint that the ravages of war can leave on the hearts and minds of innocent victims - especially our children. In his new book, author Michael Maryk has given us good reasons to remember why we should not let that happen. Maryk is a gifted writer and talented 'word' artist. He has the unique ability to 'paint pictures' by illustrating his story with words." Karen Berg Douglas for The Finnish American Reporter