As Wide as the Sky

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 03 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

Amanda Mallorie's son is dead. He has been executed. He was the perpetrator of a heinous mass shooting. It's been four long years since the shooting and in a matter of minutes his life has been extinguished. Amanda needs to start rebuilding her life and the first thing on the agenda is repairing the broken down relationship she has with her daughter.

The movers have arrived and her home and she is going through the last few items, while shifting through Robbie's belongings she comes across class ring that doesn't belong to her son. She makes it a quest to get it back to the original owner in hopes that they can learn more about her son.

The story is told in alternating chapters with a "countdown" clock. The character's have their own voice. This novel is very unique as we usually hear the story from the other side and forget that the family of the perpetrator is also a victim. This novel "shows" us the other side of the story.

This is a touching and thought provoking novel. Be prepared to be captivated.

* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.  The blurb doesn't do it justice and I had some reservations when I saw it was next in my TBR stack.  Centered around the people impacted by Robbie's killing spree in a North Dakota mall.  Each chapter is narrated by someone that was involved.  Amanda, Robbie's mother has the most chapters, in fact the story starts with her accepting the fact that her son was was put to death in prison.  Narrators include, Jaxon a young man who was paralyzed and saw his father killed next to him. Steve, a man who Robbie helped a long time ago. There are chapters from a mom who lost a child, Robbie's lawyer and others who loop this story into a wonderful story. This book takes a subject that is horrific and looks at the story from many different points of view. If you only buy a few books a year make this one of them or get your name on the wait list at you library. You don't want to miss this book. I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I ended up on the fence about As Wide As The Sky.  The premise of a novel centered on the Mother of a killer drew my attention.  AWAtS was a little too much in the mother's head though, as well as in the other character's.  I wanted more story rather than stream of consciousness.  The subject matter is difficult, so I can't say I found the novel entertaining.  I do think it might make a good selection for a book discussion group, perhaps a pairing with Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin or the memoir by the Columbine shooter's Mother, Sue Klebold.
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This book was difficult to read, both because of its subject matter - mental illness, a horrific violent crime, and the aftermath - and because much of it was in monologue form, in the characters' minds. There were a few moments of actual "doing" in the story, of characters actually interacting with others in the here and now, but most of the book was just paragraph after paragraph of characters' thoughts. It took some wind of out the sails here.

It was interesting to see how the various characters' lives intersected, and many of them were likable and sympathetic. It was a bit odd that a few of the characters only showed up in one chapter and then we never heard from or about them again. But overall, this was an interesting story that gave me a lot of food for thought.
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I very much enjoyed this book.  I wasn't sure at first how much this book would tug at my heart strings but this book had me going through every emotion.

Robert Mallorie is a murderer. He went into a mall and shot up the place. He's put to death and his mother has to move on with her life.

Amanda Mallorie loves her son even though she has to accept the fact that he did murder numerous people for no reason at all. No matter how much she searches for answers, she can't figure out where she went wrong. She has a daughter as well but her daughter moved away a long time ago to have a family with her husband. She didn't want to deal with the drama or reporters constantly around the family.

After Robert is put to death, Amanda is left with the pieces of her broken heart. She must move on but where will she go and what will she do?

This is such a good book.  The ending is absolutely fabulous.  This book is a rollercoaster of emotions.
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Wow!  I requested this book because I thought I might enjoy it, but was not expecting to become completely immersed.  The writing style made it easy to feel for each of the characters, as it wasn't just focused on Amanda and her loss. I will be seeking out more work by this author in the future.
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I loved this book! Jessica Pack did an amazing job writing this book. She takes you on an emotional roller coaster that has heartbreaking lows and super inspiring highs! I was glued to my kindle and so invested in Amanda and the others as if they were my friends! 
I really enjoyed as wide as the sky and I look forward to read more from Jessica Pack.
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I signed up to read this book at NetGalley because I love Josi Kilpack's books, but I knew this was going to be something quite different from her usual writing, because of the pen name Jessica Pack. I wasn't sure how much I was going to like it once I read the book blurb, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I really liked this book, even though the subject matter is serious and not my usual romantic happily-ever-after-ending type of read.

The story opens with Amanda Mallorie waking up to the realization that her son, Robbie, is dead. The day of his execution had arrived. Amanda goes through the ordeal of packing up the home where she raised her daughter and son; going through the boxes of items in Robbie's room, deciding what few things mean the most to her. She's moving to live by her daughter because her reason for staying--fighting for Robbie's life--is gone.

I think every parent's worst nightmare would be their child committing a horrible act that would land them in prison. Do you stop loving them? Would people blame you or judge you for your adult child's actions? This is what Amanda goes through in As Wide as the Sky. We learn why she's cut herself off from people who used to be her friends, why she works from home via computer. I don't see how she did it. I would've probably moved to a different state and gone back to my maiden name. "These last years--nightmares every one of them--had pushed her away from people, connections, relationships, and anything other than the most basic of interactions. She had no friends. She had pulled away from family. She asked nothing of anyone, but in the process, she gave nothing to anyone either."

Each chapter is another person's viewpoint with a countdown clock, and as you read you find out what the countdown point is in that person's life. All of the people in the book are somehow connected to Robbie (pre or post mental illness) or Amanda. It was nice to see some of them come together in the end.

I really liked how the author showed so many emotions in the book through the different characters. Reading it I went through so many emotions--mostly sadness at how Amanda's "friends" treated her, anger at the media for not really wanting the truth, amazement at the strength Amanda had for fighting for her son's life. Helplessness when an adult child makes bad decisions. I thought I was going to cry when I read the part about the handprints and the sledgehammer. I thought the author showed the complexity of dealing with a mental illness, such as schizophrenia. That it takes counseling in addition to getting the medication correct.

There's also hope and renewal in this story as Amanda moves several states away to live closer to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter she's neglected since Robbie's actions turned her life into a living nightmare. Amanda does get a chance to start a new happier chapter in her life and reset her clock.

Even though I found this book heartbreaking at times, I loved it. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing for allowing me to read and review this wonderful book.
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As Wide as the Sky by Jessica Pack is a recommended, introspective novel about a woman dealing with the aftermath of a violence inflicted by her deceased son.

Amanda Mallorie's son, Robbie, has just been put to death after being convicted for a mass shooting at a mall four years earlier. She is questioning her every action and trying to reconcile the man who killed others to the son she lovingly raised. She has been her son's only support in the last four years, as the doctors tried to get his medication adjusted and while Robbie refused any more appeals to his sentence. Now she is planning to move on with her own life while simultaneously and continuously recalling events of the past.

While finishing the final bits of packing for her move near her daughter in another state, she opens up a box that was in Robbie's room. It is full of the flotsam and jetsam of a much younger boy, before all the troubles began. In the box she finds a class ring that doesn't belong to Robbie, and, in fact, belonged to someone older. How did Robbie come to possess this item and why would he keep it? Amanda decides to search for the owner and return the ring.

Time stamps open each chapter and the extremely slow moving plot unfolds through the voices of multiple characters. Amanda is the main character and the novel intensely focuses on her constant introspection and self-examination.  All of her soul searching and reflecting about Robbie's past became tiresome. Amanda needs some serious counseling, and beyond the kind she mentioned (How does that make you feel? Write apology letters...) but some real talk about consequences and boundaries and how she is not responsible for another person's actions - even those of a son she raised.

Many of the chapters focus on how Robbie's shooting affected numerous other people. I couldn't help but wonder if the focus of the plot needed to be tightened up a bit. Is this Amanda's story about how she is dealing with her son's actions and any culpability she might shoulder or is it about how Robbie's violence touched many other lives? Or is it about Amanda's reflections, seeking closure, and looking for the owner of the ring? Perhaps it might have helped if, rather than giving many short chapters to those struggling with the aftermath of Robbie's violence, Pack allowed Amanda to keep working through how his actions hurt so many others without having the reader hear from them.  Some of the characters were necessary to follow - but not all of them.

The writing is good. This is not an awful book, although I will freely admit that the constant introspection from all characters began to grate. The ending seemed far-fetched to me, but perhaps those who like romance novels will appreciate it more.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Kensington via Netgalley.
Amazon and Barnes&Noble after publication
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What if your son was responsible for a hideous crime? For the death of others?

The book opens with Amanda on the day that her son, Robbie has been killed by lethal injection. 

What makes a killer? Is Amanda responsible for Robbie's choices?

People do bad things every day, but who is to blame?

A really emotive and moving story about the power of love, loss and second chances. 

This story will stay with me for a long time.
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I received this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you NetGalley!  
I really didn't know what to expect from this book but the description intrigued me.  This was different than any book I have ever read and I really liked it.  I liked all of the differing points of view - at first I found it a little confusing that there were so many people involved but then I began to understand why the more I got into the book.  This is not one of those funny and lighthearted reads.  This is a very real and sometimes dark and emotional account of a very unfortunately incident that happened.  This story covers everything revolving that - how it affected people, the build up to the event, etc.  I definitely would recommend this one!!!!
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4.5 stars.

  As Wide as the Sky by Jessica Pack is an emotionally compelling journey of healing and new beginnings.

  Amanda Mallorie is grieving the loss of her son, Robbie, whose time on death row has finally come to an end.  After her son decides not to file any more appeals for his conviction, Robbie’s sentence has been fast-tracked and his sentence has been carried out. Now it is time for Amanda try to repair her tattered relationship with her daughter, Melissa.  Finally going through Robbie’s possessions as she prepares to move, Amanda’s discovery of someone else’s class ring piques her curiosity and her resulting search for the ring’s owner is life altering.

  In the years since Robbie’s inexplicable act of violence and incarceration, Amanda has become increasingly isolated as she continues to support her son. Understanding why he committed such a horrific act of violence is impossible, but Amanda still loves Robbie very much. She is quite reflective as she tries to move forward and she finally allows herself to look back on happier times. Compelled to return the ring to its owner, Amanda is hoping the story of how the ring came into Robbie’s possession will provide her with another positive memory to hold close.

  Although mainly narrated through Amanda’s point of view, there are numerous chapters written from other characters’ perspectives.  These chapters provide an interesting peek into the lives of the people who have affected by Robbie’s crime and the continuing ripple effects his actions have on their lives. However patience is required since some of the connections do not become clear until closer to the novel’s conclusion.

  As Wide as the Sky is a very touching, thought-provoking novel that is deeply moving. Jessica Pack presents a compassionate look into the struggles family members experience as they continue loving and supporting their loved ones in spite of their crimes. This beautifully rendered novel is poignant, heartfelt and brimming with strong emotions. A tear-inducing yet ultimately uplifting novel that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.
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Thanks for the ARC! I enjoyed and devoured this read - finished in a day, easy. Gripping tale of ripples one very troubled man's life makes. Unexpected. Really good.
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Opening line:
"Two hours, forty-three minutes."

AS WIDE AS THE SKY is a heavy, enlightening, hopeful book about a mother and the ramifications of a single act of her son. 

The book opens with Amanda waking up and wondering about her son and his death. I was immediately pulled in and wanted to know why he was dead and why the chapter started with a sort of count down. The more I read the more I understood that Amanda's son, Robbie, had committed a heinous crime for which he got the death penalty and was given a lethal injection that morning. 
But that's not what makes up the book. 
The book is a lot about introspection and making the right choices and coming to terms with those choices and it's consequences. A mother can only do so much with the influence she has over her children. They grow up and make their own choices, good or bad. 
But what if your child killed another? Amanda goes through so many memories and emotions as she tries to not only grapple with her sons death, but the deaths he created. 
There are other characters too, affected by the tragedy, that get their own chapters. I loved how Ms. Pack wove all their stories together. 

Thanks to netgalley for the early read!
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This story jumped around with POVs and was a tad hard to get into. I almost DNF'd it, but I pushed through, and I am so glad I did. Because it ended up being an emotional, beautiful story.
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This is the story of Amanda Mallorie whose son Steven has committed a mass murder and had been fast=tracked to execution. But it is not only Amanda's story because as As Wide As The Sky shows through chapters told through many different viewpoints, our actions good and bad, small and large have an impact on others' lives.

At first  there were so many different viewpoints that I was confused about how they tied together, but it was really interesting to see how the author tied everything together in the end.
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As Wide as the Sky begins with a grieving mother, unable to reconcile the son she  raised, with the man he became. 

She struggles to understand what drove him to commit such an awful crime, how to be there for him when everyone else has turned their backs or labeled him a monster, and how impossible it is to move on with her life when all her thoughts and feelings bring her back to her little boy. 

When someone commits a heinous crime, it’s easy to identify with the victims and their families, and rightly so, but this book adds a new perspective to the debate - how difficult it is for the family members of perpetrators. Amanda Mallorie knows her son did wrong, and accepts that he should be punished, but that doesn’t mean that she can forsake him, or cut the ties of love between a mother and her child. 

This story is told through multiple character chapters, which was a little hard to follow at first, it felt that maybe there were too many voices, and the overuse of introspective questions in the character’s narratives grated on my nerves a little, but as the story went on and the connections began to take shape, these voices helped to weave together the notion that our actions, good and bad, have an unknownable number of consequences. 

Compelling, moving, and incredibly raw, this book was an eye-opening experience and wholly un-put-downable, I give it 4.5 stars. Thank you to Jessica Pack, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I need to preface this review by saying this book was nothing like Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, except for the mass shooting and dragged out storyline. The book starts in present day and alludes to a catastrophic event changing their lives forever. You soon learn that Robbie opened fire in a mall and has since died. Now, Amanda, Robbie’s mother, is dealing with his death and the aftermath of his decisions. While going through his things, Amanda finds a high school class ring that does not belong to Robbie. She is determined to find its owner. While reading this book, I kept wondering whether the plot was about the Amanda’s feelings, the shooting, or the ring Robbie’s mom found. It was hard to read because it took so long to get to the plot. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view. I liked this because you could see how each character was affected by the shooting. I thought the characters were well-developed and relatable; however, As Wide as the Sky took too long to get to the storyline and inevitably lost my attention. I would not recommend this book!
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Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book was very similar to other authors that I love that give the perspective from different characters, has a twist, and relates to a current societal problem. Amanda's son Robbie, has done the unthinkable, and we start out in present day, when he is paying for his tragic decision. 

The story goes through many different characters as they relate to Amanda and Robbie, and there is a twist toward the end, that brings it all together.

I really enjoyed this story and would recommend those that love Jodi Picoult (as I do!)
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Multi-layered. Lovely. Unforgettable. Loved this book! 
Thanks to author,publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating i gave it.
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