The Ashes of Innocence, Second Edition

Biographies & Memoirs

By Alexandra Tesluk

Publisher : Alexandra Tesluk

ABOUT Alexandra Tesluk

Alexandra Tesluk
I live in Toronto, Canada with my husband and family. In 2008, I published my memoir The Ashes of Innocence. Shortly after, I was diagnosed with AML leukemia. A highly personal decision to write about my journey, I do not shy away from the big questions about life and death. I offer insig More...



The human spirit is a remarkable thing. It is strong, it is durable, it is resilient — and it is driven by our unyielding passion for life and living.

It is the human spirit that pushes us to rise above the troubles of our lives — our hurt, our fear, our anger and our heartbreak.

The life of Alexandra Tesluk, author of The Ashes of Innocence, has been one of pain and adversity; it has also been one of triumph, a triumph of that same, indomitable human spirit.

“Ashes” is a true story based on my life. It is a story of my passion to find my father. I felt a complete displacement growing up without him in my life. As I entered my teens, I discovered that my father might very well be alive. I felt renewed hope that perhaps I could connect with his family unit. My story is a cross-continental journey in human growth and wisdom. It combines accurate historical facts with authentic descriptions of Ukrainian, Polish, European and Canadian life. I struggled with the thoughts of writing this book for a long time. Should I expose my soul to the world? Did I really want to share those very deep scars that were so personal & kept hidden for such a long time? I decided yes, my story needed to be told. The absence of “safety nets” for women, men & children in the 1960’s who were in abusive relationships needed to be addressed. It opened doors for many that there was hope, life & love after abuse. Did the market need another personal story such as “Ashes?” My answer is “yes” ~ we need stories of victory like "Ashes." “Ashes” offers validation, inspiration and the knowledge that we are not alone in our trials & tribulations. The same would apply to “Hope.” My journey with leukemia took me beyond any perimeters I had previously known. I write with tears, courage, love and some humor.

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. FromAshes 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 realJuly 1, 2008, D. Elkink, Alberta, Canada