The Entire Sky

A Novel

Coming Soon


By Joe Wilkins

Formats and Prices




$19.99 CAD

With echoes of Demon Copperhead and Plainsong, a poignant story about a troubled boy on the run, an aging rancher, and a woman at a crossroads, who find unexpected solace and kinship in the family they make.
With his long hair and penchant for guitar, teenage Justin is the spitting image of his idol, Kurt Cobain—a resemblance that has often marked him an outcast. When the long-simmering abuse from his uncle finally boils over, Justin has no choice but to break free, in a violent act that will haunt him, and try to make it on his own as a runaway.
Meanwhile, in rural Montana, Rene Bouchard, a rancher nearing retirement, grieves the recent death of his wife. Her passing has revealed precisely how fractured the family has become—particularly the relationship between Rene and his daughter, Lianne. As old wounds ache anew, father and daughter begin to doubt the possibility of reconciliation, even as they each privately yearn for it.
Justin’s wanderings bring him to the Bouchard family ranch, and soon Rene and Lianne take the boy in as their own. But before long, Justin’s past threatens to catch up with him, jeopardizing not only his new bond with Rene and Lianne but also the home he’s finally been able to claim. With its lyricism, tangible evocation of place, and piercing insight reminiscent of the novels of Barbara Kingsolver and Kent Haruf, The Entire Sky is an unforgettable piece of modern, American fiction.


  • "Wilkins offers a profound meditation on family and finding one’s identity. The prose is lyrical yet economical, like an elder who dispenses nuggets of wisdom with every utterance . . . Wilkins captures with devastating sensitivity how broken people can mend one another and how acceptance and forgiveness can lead to redemption and love."
    Booklist (starred review)
  • “In desolate, scenic Montana, this novel of lost souls shows them finding themselves in each other . . . The Entire Sky is emotionally powerful and richly descriptive, rapturous in its evocation of the big skies and vast expanse and the lives that have come to seem so small and empty . . . The tale builds with inexorable tension, revealing what has happened, and what could. This is no country for sensitive boys. It’s a novel of flight or fight, of finding family and a home and a reason to live.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "Joe Wilkins's The Entire Sky exposes with strength and poetry the unjust pain of toxic masculinity and the profound damage it wages on children. In these pages a different potential for manhood is turned over and examined, one that allows for gentleness, healing, acceptance, grace. Wilkins gives an exquisite depth to the Montana landscape and to his characters—this is a textured, bloody, and breathtaking book."
    Sharma Shields, award-winning author of The Cassandra and The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac
  • The Entire Sky is a beautifully written and deeply touching novel about a boy searching for safety and peace, a woman torn between the life she knows well and the new one she and her husband have created, and a man fighting to heal from loss and confronting the passage of time. Each of these characters will stick with me for a long time. I’ll read anything Joe Wilkins writes.”
    De’Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills, winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
  • Praise for Fall Back Down When I Die:
  • "Wilkins delivers a Shakespearean mix of drama and mortal danger in crisp and beautiful language . . . He renders the effects of violence and trauma on the daily machinations of human lives . . . The world of the novel, rural Montana, is presented with the native realism of someone familiar with the people, language, landscape, and controversies of the 'way out here' . . . He captures the social dynamic of communities of few people spread over many swaths of land . . . This novel instills hope. Wilkins has produced a remarkable book filled with characters who, despite their inherent differences over how to exist on the land, remind us of the myriad reasons that every person might be loved."
    The Oregonian
  • "A heart-rending tale of family, love and violence . . . Through these characters, in a prose that can hum gently, then spark like a fire, Wilkins fashions a Western fable which spirals down to a tragic end. Following in the literary roots of Montanans Jim Harrison and Rick Bass, Wilkins packs a lot of story and stylistic wallop into this gripping, outstanding novel."
    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • "Short story writer, poet, and memoirist Wilkins writes of hardscrabble life on the northern Great Plains with mesmerizing power, creating characters with rich if troubled interior lives who are desperate for agency and haunted by absent fathers. Wendell and Rowdy's slowly blossoming relationship is as lovely and breathtaking as the book's tragic ending is inevitable and devastating.
    Suffused with a sense of longing, loss, and the desire for change -- asking deep questions about our place in the landscape and what, if anything, we are owed -- this is a remarkable and unforgettable first novel."
    Booklist (starred review)
  • "Wilkins's novel feels insightful amid the ongoing debate over public land and legal rights, but it's also timeless, and it treads the same kind of territory as writers like Kent Haruf and Ivan Doig, digging into quiet stories of people living close to the land."
    Outside Magazine
  • "Montana's rugged beauty is poetically evoked in Wilkins's fine debut. This is an accomplished first novel, notable in particular for its strong depiction of the timeless landscape of Montana's big sky country."
    Publishers Weekly

On Sale
Jul 2, 2024
Page Count
240 pages

Joe Wilkins

About the Author

Joe Wilkins is the author of the novel Fall Back Down When I Die, which was short-listed for the First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, and the award-winning memoir The Mountain and the Fathers. He has published four books of poetry, including Thieve and When We Were Birds, winner of the Oregon Book Award, and his stories, essays, and poems have appeared in the Georgia Review, the Harvard Review, Orion, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart Prize winner, a three-time High Plains Book Award winner, and a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, the National Magazine Award, and the PEN/USA Award. He lives with his wife and two children in western Oregon, where he teaches writing at Linfield University.

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