The Floor of the Sky


The Floor of the Sky

Pamela Carter Joern

Flyover Fiction Series

244 pages


September 2006


$16.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

January 2015


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the Nebraska Sandhills, nothing is more sacred than the bond of family and land—and nothing is more capable of causing deep wounds. In Pamela Carter Joern's riveting novel The Floor of the Sky, Toby Jenkins, an aging widow, is on the verge of losing her family's ranch when her granddaughter Lila—a city girl, sixteen and pregnant—shows up for the summer. While facing painful decisions about her future, Lila uncovers festering secrets about her grandmother's past—discoveries that spur Toby to reconsider the ambiguous ties she holds to her embittered sister Gertie, her loyal ranch hand George, her not-so-sympathetic daughter Nola Jean, and ultimately, herself.
Propelled by stark realism in breakneck prose, The Floor of the Sky reveals the inner worlds of characters isolated by geography and habit. Set against the sweeping changes in rural America—from the onslaught of corporate agribusiness to the pressures exerted by superstores on small towns—Joern's compelling story bears witness to the fortitude and hard-won wisdom of people whose lives have been forged by devotion to the land.

Author Bio

Pamela Carter Joern is a widely published author whose work has appeared in South Dakota Review, Red Rock Review, Feminist Studies, and Minnesota Monthly. She is also the author of five professionally produced plays, the winner of a Tamarack Award in 2001, and the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board writing fellowship.


"[Joern] is a fearless teller of hard truth. Set in the Sandhills of Nebraska, The Floor of the Sky is a tale of quiet heroics, a story of tenacity and courage, an intimate glimpse into the lives of independent ranchers determined to survive. A powerful portrayal of family, land, and loyalty. We are the wiser for having read it."—Sheila O'Connor, author of Where No Gods Came and Tokens of Grace

"[Joern's] characters are sensible, endearing, and deeply haunted, and there's enough story and intrigue for ten novels. Secrets, old and new, keep the past constantly bumping into the present, making for a mesmerizing family saga."—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God

"Pamela Carter Joern writes with compassion and a wry sense of humor, in a direct and true style that takes in the vivid details of the world of the Nebraska Sandhills and the complexities and nuances of her characters' inner lives. Her work may bring to mind the novels of Kent Haruf and Larry McMurtry—though, like the fiercely independent women that populate her novel, Joern is clearly an original!"—Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me

"A testimony to the power of family secrets and the enduring legacy of the land."—Mary Clearman Blew, author of Balsamroot: A Memoir

"Playwright Joern's characters are as stern as the land, and the world of her debut novel is sturdy and memorable."—Publishers Weekly

“[An] emotionally rich first novel about an unwed pregnant teen spending the summer with her grandmother in the hardscrabble Nebraska Sandhills. . . . [H]er visit stirs up long-simmering tensions for Toby, Toby’s bitter sister Gertie, and George, who has worked on the farm for more than fifty years. . . . [George’s] unspoken love makes for irresistible reading. . . . Think Paul Newman with Joanne Woodward. . . . A resonant love story, whatever the age of the lovers.”—Kirkus Reviews

"First novelist Joern is particularly skilled at depicting contemporary small-town life and the issues rural communities face: the difficulty small farmers and ranchers have staying afloat financially and the decision of younger generations either to leave for urban areas or to endure directionless lives. She packs a lot of story into 250 pages. . . . Essential for rural and regional public libraries."—Library Journal

"Joern intricately weaves together a compelling family saga and a beautifully rendered paean to the land her characters love and are struggling to preserve. . . . Joern's lyrical and painterly descriptions of the vast Sandhills are the perfect backdrop for this subtle drama."—Booklist


2009 One Book, One Columbus Selection
2007 Nebraska Book Award, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, fiction category winner
2007 Alex Award selection
2006 Holiday Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection

Also of Interest