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Under Big-Hearted Skies: A Young Man's Memoir of Adventure, Wilderness, & Love

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“I have tears rolling down onto my chin right now. Wow. Reading UBHS was a joyful experience—it’s not often one encounters a narrator with Tom’s heart, experience, and technical expertise.” —Margo LaPierre, editor for Guernica Editions Under Big-Hearted Skies is an affectionate yet piercing account of working on the prairies, mountains, lakes and oceans. Stories of adventur “I have tears rolling down onto my chin right now. Wow. Reading UBHS was a joyful experience—it’s not often one encounters a narrator with Tom’s heart, experience, and technical expertise.” —Margo LaPierre, editor for Guernica Editions Under Big-Hearted Skies is an affectionate yet piercing account of working on the prairies, mountains, lakes and oceans. Stories of adventure and conflict and comedy, with crashing float planes in isolated forest, oil-rigs spewing in the night-shift North, fist fights both won and lost, hearts both swelled and broken--but it’s the underlying hope, humanity, and love that make this book rare, make these stories worth telling. The people on its pages shine like North Stars and supermoons and there’s honesty and optimism that moves from side-splitting to heart-aching. Simply put, this book is memorable and worthy of being read: adventures of a boy through to a young man putting years behind him under fortunate skies. There's heart here. There's pages to turn. Turn 'em.


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“I have tears rolling down onto my chin right now. Wow. Reading UBHS was a joyful experience—it’s not often one encounters a narrator with Tom’s heart, experience, and technical expertise.” —Margo LaPierre, editor for Guernica Editions Under Big-Hearted Skies is an affectionate yet piercing account of working on the prairies, mountains, lakes and oceans. Stories of adventur “I have tears rolling down onto my chin right now. Wow. Reading UBHS was a joyful experience—it’s not often one encounters a narrator with Tom’s heart, experience, and technical expertise.” —Margo LaPierre, editor for Guernica Editions Under Big-Hearted Skies is an affectionate yet piercing account of working on the prairies, mountains, lakes and oceans. Stories of adventure and conflict and comedy, with crashing float planes in isolated forest, oil-rigs spewing in the night-shift North, fist fights both won and lost, hearts both swelled and broken--but it’s the underlying hope, humanity, and love that make this book rare, make these stories worth telling. The people on its pages shine like North Stars and supermoons and there’s honesty and optimism that moves from side-splitting to heart-aching. Simply put, this book is memorable and worthy of being read: adventures of a boy through to a young man putting years behind him under fortunate skies. There's heart here. There's pages to turn. Turn 'em.

30 review for Under Big-Hearted Skies: A Young Man's Memoir of Adventure, Wilderness, & Love

  1. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Most of us stop taking risks after our first wipeout going full speed down the hill on our bike and fail to get air after the ramp collapses. Tom never stops. Not sure if it is good thing or a bad thing but this book makes you question whether you have taken enough risks to say you have really lived.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annette Backlar

    Big-Hearted Author demonstrates (maybe even ‘coins’) a unique style telling of people and experiences. A quick and enjoyable read written with heart. Loved it! Wish Tom Stewart would write more!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Memoirs are distinct literary works in that they are challenged with creating a storyline of noteworthy life events that draw readers in through their uniqueness, no story of which is more unique than Tom Stewart’s.  Tom is a Canadian, and while he may seem driftless at times as he goes from working as a fishing guide, to a college dropout, to a float plane pilot and backwoods hunting guide, his short life stories combine for an outstanding memoir that sets it apart from the pack. “Under Big-Hea Memoirs are distinct literary works in that they are challenged with creating a storyline of noteworthy life events that draw readers in through their uniqueness, no story of which is more unique than Tom Stewart’s.  Tom is a Canadian, and while he may seem driftless at times as he goes from working as a fishing guide, to a college dropout, to a float plane pilot and backwoods hunting guide, his short life stories combine for an outstanding memoir that sets it apart from the pack. “Under Big-Hearted Skies” is a story of a Canadian adventurer, author Tom Stewart.  Throughout his stories he showcases vivid landscapes and even more intriguing characters met during his various travels and escapades.  Written as a collection of short stories, this memoir delivers a punch.  Stewart expertly navigates the story of his life via the scenery and excitement encountered rather than the passage of time, making for a more enjoyable and engaging read. While the stories often take place in the cold Canadian wilderness, oil rig or even on a float plane in a near disastrous crash, the grammar, dialogue and sidebar stories within seamlessly aligned with the settings provided.  However, as an American that prefers the comforts of the indoors, this did cause me to have several bouts of re-reading, but ultimately worked in favor of the book’s voice, tone and background as it placed readers directly into the scene.  The stories within are also written in a way that makes for great conversations with those more adventure savvy, such as my husband.  We had a blast discussing and relishing in Stewart’s stories of Sea Lions stealing massive fishing trophies in heat of reeling them in on the expeditions he guided. All in all, “Under Big-Hearted Skies” provides readers a short memoir, filled with stories full of action, adventure and crazy characters, all of which played a critical part in the author’s life.  While this may, at first glance seem like a book for adventurous individuals, I assure you the content within will be enjoyed by all.  Whether you prefer hiking, fishing or hunting outdoors, or would rather watch it on TV when nothing else is on, the writing and stories of Tom’s life are enjoyable for even the most general of audiences.  Spanning early childhood to present day adulthood no exciting milestone or adventure is left untouched.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Reader Views

    Memoirs are distinct literary works in that they are challenged with creating a storyline of noteworthy life events that draw readers in through their uniqueness, no story of which is more unique than Tom Stewart’s. Tom is a Canadian, and while he may seem driftless at times as he goes from working as a fishing guide, to a college dropout, to a float plane pilot and backwoods hunting guide, his short life stories combine for an outstanding memoir that sets it apart from the pack. “Under Big-Heart Memoirs are distinct literary works in that they are challenged with creating a storyline of noteworthy life events that draw readers in through their uniqueness, no story of which is more unique than Tom Stewart’s. Tom is a Canadian, and while he may seem driftless at times as he goes from working as a fishing guide, to a college dropout, to a float plane pilot and backwoods hunting guide, his short life stories combine for an outstanding memoir that sets it apart from the pack. “Under Big-Hearted Skies” is a story of a Canadian adventurer, author Tom Stewart. Throughout his stories he showcases vivid landscapes and even more intriguing characters met during his various travels and escapades. Written as a collection of short stories, this memoir delivers a punch. Stewart expertly navigates the story of his life via the scenery and excitement encountered rather than the passage of time, making for a more enjoyable and engaging read. While the stories often take place in the cold Canadian wilderness, oil rig or even on a float plane in a near disastrous crash, the grammar, dialogue, and sidebar stories within seamlessly align with the settings provided. However, as an American that prefers the comforts of the indoors, this did cause me to have several bouts of re-reading, but ultimately worked in favor of the book’s voice, tone, and background as it placed readers directly into the scene. The stories within are also written in a way that makes for great conversations with those more adventure savvy, such as my husband. We had a blast discussing and relishing in Stewart’s stories of Sea Lions stealing massive fishing trophies in heat of reeling them in on the expeditions he guided. All in all, “Under Big-Hearted Skies” provides readers a short memoir, filled with stories full of action, adventure and crazy characters, all of which played a critical part in the author’s life. While this may, at first glance seem like a book for adventurous individuals, I assure you the content within will be enjoyed by all. Whether you prefer hiking, fishing, or hunting outdoors, or would rather watch it all on TV, the writing and stories of Tom’s life are enjoyable for even the most general of audiences. Spanning early childhood to present day adulthood no exciting milestone or adventure is left untouched.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    Took my time and enjoyed it! I definitely enjoyed reading this book. I took my time with it because I live a very busy life with little spare moments for reading and the content also provoked deep thoughts for me, so I needed to process it as I went. Content-wise I would rate it a 5, but I found myself confused slightly when reading stories that the author seemed to be utilizing illeism. I found it difficult to discern what was actually being thought or said at the time of the story vs current th Took my time and enjoyed it! I definitely enjoyed reading this book. I took my time with it because I live a very busy life with little spare moments for reading and the content also provoked deep thoughts for me, so I needed to process it as I went. Content-wise I would rate it a 5, but I found myself confused slightly when reading stories that the author seemed to be utilizing illeism. I found it difficult to discern what was actually being thought or said at the time of the story vs current thoughts. It did not detract from my enjoyment of the content though. He has a beautifully eloquent way of relating his stories and thoughts overall. I rarely re-read books, but I may actually re-read this one for further understanding, as there are several topics discussed that I continually juggle in my head and struggle to make my final decision on. But do we ever really make a final decision? If you are a thinker, ponderer, wanderer, and or simply enjoy hearing or reading about the lives and thoughts of others, I suspect you would enjoy reading "Under Big-Hearted Skies". Thankful to have had this book introduced to me and have it in my library now. The embers of its pages have seared my soul.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jill Gallagher

    Thanks for the adventures This book by Tom Stewart was fun, interesting, and educational to traveling through his world and memories. I was able to visualize so well the country he lived, worked and travel in. I loved the analogy about living in fear in boxes not realizing there is a box next to you with another fearful person in it as well. And the God that allowed you to straddle the fishing hole while landing the plane on ice. My favorite is about saving the lost fluff. I have experienced that Thanks for the adventures This book by Tom Stewart was fun, interesting, and educational to traveling through his world and memories. I was able to visualize so well the country he lived, worked and travel in. I loved the analogy about living in fear in boxes not realizing there is a box next to you with another fearful person in it as well. And the God that allowed you to straddle the fishing hole while landing the plane on ice. My favorite is about saving the lost fluff. I have experienced that a few times and a few times the fluff lost. And it was always do to the human. Thank you for this book Tom. Good Job!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Remmert

    I love the way Under Big-Hearted Skies is broken up into distinct memories that are part adventure story, part intimate reflection. Embarking upon each new section is like settling in with a little tumbler of fine whiskey. (Well, I teach English, so frankly I can't speak to fine whiskey...) Anyways, Under Big-Hearted Skies is a delectable treat and I envy Tom's adventurous spirit. I love the way Under Big-Hearted Skies is broken up into distinct memories that are part adventure story, part intimate reflection. Embarking upon each new section is like settling in with a little tumbler of fine whiskey. (Well, I teach English, so frankly I can't speak to fine whiskey...) Anyways, Under Big-Hearted Skies is a delectable treat and I envy Tom's adventurous spirit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ida White

    So simular to the stories I heard as a child Being from northern Maine and having had uncles who were also guides in northern Maine and into Canada, although many years before Mr Stewart was even born, these stories were like reliving the lives of my uncles.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Patterson

    It was really cool to read a book by an outdoorsy fellow Canadian and I loved how the language/grammar was as if you were right there hearing the conversation. The writing style made me think of Norman Maclean who wrote A River Runs Through It and Other Stories because the author isn't just writing a novel, he's telling a story. These snapshots of this guy's life are great but I really hope Tom writes another novel because I want to know more! I feel that so many of his stories could have kept g It was really cool to read a book by an outdoorsy fellow Canadian and I loved how the language/grammar was as if you were right there hearing the conversation. The writing style made me think of Norman Maclean who wrote A River Runs Through It and Other Stories because the author isn't just writing a novel, he's telling a story. These snapshots of this guy's life are great but I really hope Tom writes another novel because I want to know more! I feel that so many of his stories could have kept going but perhaps the author just isn't ready to share those pieces of his life yet.

  10. 4 out of 5

    MichaelR

    Vivid stories Vivid and entertaining personal stories from his early life as a guide, pilot and traveller. I recommend this book if you like this genre.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shari Kohl

    Tom Stewart, a true Canadian, shares the different hats early in his teens through his thirties and the life skills he gained along the way. She shares several fickle encounters with pretty girls along the way, but he always reverts back to the jobs he needs to keep him living the adventuresome lifestyle he chooses to live.

  12. 4 out of 5

    NicholeReadsWithCats

    It took me a few months to work my way through Under Big-Hearted Skies; the style wasn't something I wanted to rip through. Memories, outdoor adventure, and stories about the nature of people, emotions, actions. Overall a great book by a new author. Check it out! It took me a few months to work my way through Under Big-Hearted Skies; the style wasn't something I wanted to rip through. Memories, outdoor adventure, and stories about the nature of people, emotions, actions. Overall a great book by a new author. Check it out!

  13. 5 out of 5

    mary m green

    I enjoyed this book, though initially I wasn’t sure I would. I had been expecting a more-or-less chronological narrative about writer Tom Stewart’s experiences as an outdoor guide in northern Canada, so the first chapters seemed disjointed to me. Once I began looking at each chapter as a short story that didn’t require transitions from one to another, I went with the flow and found much to like in reading about a young man’s experiences as a fishing guide and oil-rig roughneck, with some family I enjoyed this book, though initially I wasn’t sure I would. I had been expecting a more-or-less chronological narrative about writer Tom Stewart’s experiences as an outdoor guide in northern Canada, so the first chapters seemed disjointed to me. Once I began looking at each chapter as a short story that didn’t require transitions from one to another, I went with the flow and found much to like in reading about a young man’s experiences as a fishing guide and oil-rig roughneck, with some family stories interspersed. Having raised four sons, I smiled with recognition at the youthful impulses behind well-meant but not always well-considered decisions. For example, Stewart was right to insist that a friend who had had too much to drink should not ride his jet-ski home. But, never having driven a jet-ski himself, was he wise to jump on and take control, with his friend as passenger? Let’s just say that was an interesting adventure. Stewart writes in a conversational style, which can be charming but sometimes made me wish an editor had stepped in, as when he jumped back and forth from past tense to present and back to past in just a few sentences. This is a quick read with Stewart’s personality shining through and glimpses of areas well north of areas familiar to most visitors to Canada.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kitty

    This will be a treasure for the author’s family. There’s no real moral that I can find threading through it, though some stories do hint at lessons learned. It’s basically a collection of memories that define his outdoor life. Fascinating, yet sometimes hard for me to relate to. (I couldn’t come from a more opposite upbringing). There’s a passage toward the end where he speaks to the girl he’s on a date with about how easy it is to fly a few hours away to countries that seem worlds apart yet und This will be a treasure for the author’s family. There’s no real moral that I can find threading through it, though some stories do hint at lessons learned. It’s basically a collection of memories that define his outdoor life. Fascinating, yet sometimes hard for me to relate to. (I couldn’t come from a more opposite upbringing). There’s a passage toward the end where he speaks to the girl he’s on a date with about how easy it is to fly a few hours away to countries that seem worlds apart yet under the same sun. Places of war and slavery, etc. That’s how I felt at times reading his book—that he lives a foreign life to me, but only in the details. This man’s heart is large and utterly relatable..

  15. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    Wonderment in the Canadian wilds. I began this book under the premise I like regional writers and nature. It is long past my time to challenge myself in a young man's adventure; being a female in her early 70s. But isn't that why we read? To step into another's shoes and go on a journey? This was a good read for that. The characters were believable, funny or frightening. The water is omniscient in this environment as transportation, a food source, a danger, a challenge and a runway. If you take th Wonderment in the Canadian wilds. I began this book under the premise I like regional writers and nature. It is long past my time to challenge myself in a young man's adventure; being a female in her early 70s. But isn't that why we read? To step into another's shoes and go on a journey? This was a good read for that. The characters were believable, funny or frightening. The water is omniscient in this environment as transportation, a food source, a danger, a challenge and a runway. If you take this journey I think you'll like it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Evonne

    Very Canadian. There's one reason to enjoy this book - it oozes Canada: full of big wilderness, gentle spirited, kind, adventurous, open. There are some really beautifully written bits where I appreciated the original imagery and blended ideas. Each chapter is a stand-alone, a memoir piece unique to itself. Easy to read; nothing to get excited about; a peaceful way to spend an evening. Very Canadian. There's one reason to enjoy this book - it oozes Canada: full of big wilderness, gentle spirited, kind, adventurous, open. There are some really beautifully written bits where I appreciated the original imagery and blended ideas. Each chapter is a stand-alone, a memoir piece unique to itself. Easy to read; nothing to get excited about; a peaceful way to spend an evening.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I found this to be a quick, unique memoir. Each chapter is a stand alone story. The perspective is light hearted, jovial, and pleasant overall. Some stories were more interesting than others, but the imagery was always decent. I did enjoy some parts of it....others I found myself skimming. Which is probably typical for the layout of the book. It was a decent read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom Stewart

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan Gerrior

  21. 5 out of 5

    Heather

  22. 5 out of 5

    john planinsek

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Luongo

  24. 5 out of 5

    William D Thomas

  25. 4 out of 5

    The YH

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Linville

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tabb George

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Sollberger

  29. 5 out of 5

    James V Standaert

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brian B Duvalis

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