Beneath The Greater Sky

Fiction - General
146 Pages
Reviewed on 05/28/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Andrew Voelker received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Miami University (Oxford, OH). He was a member of Chicago’s The Writer’s Loft from 2007-2010 where he studied fiction under Jerry Cleaver. Andrew was raised in New Jersey and now lives in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

Beneath The Greater Sky by Andrew Voelker begins on a seemingly hopeful note: Ryan going out for a jog after coming home, his pregnant wife Kathy due in five weeks, and him receiving a quilt his wife made for their child. But things go awry when their daughter dies from a twisted umbilical cord. Then everything spirals downward: their marriage suffers, and Ryan Quinn is wracked by despair. Devastated, he has nothing left except for the quilt he refuses to let go of. Eventually he sets out to deal with issues from the past, beginning with burying the quilt he has held on to for so long out in Wyoming, where his daughter was conceived. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Ryan unintentionally gets embroiled in a case that will make his life more complicated than it already is.

Reaching wisdom and finding our own truth is indeed always a gripping journey in itself, no matter the situation. And this is what Beneath the Greater Sky brings us. It is so aptly titled for Ryan’s experiences and especially for how it ends. The book takes us on an emotional roller coaster following the aftermath of a tragic life event – confusion, denial, anger and, ultimately, the emergence of the strength of human spirit. We end up rooting for him, as much as we root for our friends or ourselves as we go through life’s challenges. The author makes great use of situations as metaphors for our protagonist. This is a book purchase positively worth making.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Beneath the Greater Sky by Andrew Voelker is a gripping story about one man’s journey through grief. Ryan Quinn lives in a suburb outside of Chicago. He is a troubled man. He and his wife Kathy separate due to irreconcilable differences. But, the truth is, after their daughter dies in the womb, their coping mechanisms are vastly different. Losing the baby “broke them.” Kathy has an affair. Ryan becomes angry at God, drinks too much, and obsesses about the death of his daughter and ex-wife. Trying to somehow ease his pain, Ryan keeps the quilt Kathy made for the baby in his bedside table. When Ryan’s grandfather is hospitalized, Ryan decides to take a trip to Wyoming. While taking take of his grandfather, he plans to venture up the mountain, to his and Kathy’s favorite spot, and put the quilt and his past to rest. Mayhem erupts, danger is lurking in the mountains, and he wonders if he will make it out alive.

Andrew Voelker writes an outstanding first novel in Beneath the Greater Sky. There is no pain that comes close to the trauma of losing a child, especially when it is a still born child. Voelker takes you into the pain of his main character. He allows the reader to feel the heartache, and the tragic wonderment of a life that never got a chance to live. Using a flashback technique, he reveals the events that led up to the present state of mind of his main character. Most authors focus on the mother’s loss. I appreciate that Voelker gave insight into the heart and soul of the father. The symbolism of the quilt was ingenious. With clear and enticing descriptions, the setting draws you into the freedom and peace of the great outdoors. However, drama quickly turns into a thrilling action adventure. This narrative’s plot reveals that out in the open, in the middle of nature, it is not always peaceful. The intensity builds page upon page, portraying that life can change in an instant.

Kayti Nika Raet

In Beneath the Greater Sky, a novel by Andrew Voelker, Ryan Quinn's visions of an idyllic future are shattered with the unexpected death of his unborn daughter. His marriage quickly dissolves and soon all that is left amid the tragedy and despair is a quilt sewn by his wife for their daughter. Seeking closure, Ryan decides to bury the quilt in a grassy meadow in the mountains of Wyoming, a place close to his heart. But the closure he seeks isn't necessarily that easy, especially after he becomes the primary suspect in the abduction of a teenaged girl. Dragged into a nightmarish world, now Ryan not only has to battle grief and prove his innocence, but fight for his very survival.

Beneath the Greater Sky by Andrew Voelker is a well written novel that manages to be both sedate and fast paced at all the right moments. Voelker does not waste words, whether it's through his depictions of grief and fatigue, to the adrenalin rush of danger. It makes for elegant writing and a strong story. His characters are not flashy or grandiose, and manage to perfectly suit the plot that revolves around them. I've read a lot of novels and after a while one reaches a point where you know what to expect out of a book during the first few pages. Beneath the Greater Sky by Andrew Voelker stands out in that it takes the road less traveled, giving us rich character growth and something slightly different from the usual literary fare. A laudable literary debut.

Jack Magnus

Beneath the Greater Sky is a contemporary fiction novel written by Andrew Voelker. Ryan Quinn lives with his wife in a Chicago suburb that faces acres of woodlands. His life is centred around his work and his family. Kathy is pregnant and expecting soon. When he gets home one night, he decides to go running with their dog, Poncho. It’s a marvelous run, but when he gets back home, Kathy is acting oddly and she finally tells him that the baby isn’t moving. At the hospital, her doctor confirms that the baby is dead, and a procedure is done to deliver the still-born child who they named Addison. Ryan’s neat and orderly world continues to collapse within itself when Kathy announces that she’s in love with someone else and has been for the last eight months. Then Ryan hears that his grandfather in Wyoming has had an accident; he drops everything and drives out to see him. He brings Poncho, who had been staying with Kathy since their separation, and the quilt she had made for Addison.

Andrew Voelker’s contemporary fiction novel, Beneath the Greater Sky, is filled with descriptions of nature and the outdoors. Ryan’s grandfather lives by himself in a log cabin in the woods which he meticulously maintains, and one can quickly see the bonds that the two men share. This story transcends genres as there’s the ongoing mystery of the missing girl, and the thriller aspect when Ryan is suspected of being that girl’s internet boyfriend from Chicago, making him the target of both the police and the girl’s unbalanced half-brother. I was transported by the author’s nature descriptions and wished I was out there in the Gros Ventre. Ryan is a character that I could identify with, and I quickly got involved in his story, especially during his hike and the ensuing desperate efforts to get help for him and Poncho. Beneath the Greater Sky is an enthralling read that is highly recommended.