The Ski Jumpers: A Novel (Paperback)

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The Ski Jumpers: A Novel By Peter Geye Cover Image

The Ski Jumpers: A Novel (Paperback)


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“This book is about so much more than ski jumping. A stunning story of family, trauma, secrets, and forgiveness, of finding peace as we grow older. You will grow attached to every single character in this storytelling masterpiece.”
— Kristen Sandstrom, Apostle Islands Booksellers, Bayfield, WI

Staff Reviews

If I have ever recommended a novel with crisp writing, families with seemingly-chilly edges (who turn out to be so much warmer than they appear), and a plot line that will have you cracking your knuckles in anticipation of what's to come - then I've most certainly handed you one of Peter Geye's novels.
His latest takes us from the seedy underbelly of Chicago in the 1950s to the pristine, snow-laden ski hills of Northern Minnesota, making The Ski Jumpers everything you'd expect from an author Kirkus has likened to Jack London and Jon Krakauer.
So much of the Bargaard family story revolves around winters on the slopes, but you won't find something as posh as a lift ticket here. Likewise no gondolas or après-skis; brothers Jon and Anton scale their hills fueled purely by adrenaline and competition. Family lore alleges that Pop and Bett ran away from a bad situation in Chicago, but the details are sparse, and things only get more foggy as the boys grow older. When they are in their early teens, their father goes to jail for murder, but something doesn't add up. What happened when their parents first arrived in Minneapolis?
When Jon and Anton are forced to reunite decades after Jon left home, at their father's funeral, the only thing more contentious than Jon's relationship with his mother is his attempt to talk to his brother about something other than his unsuccessful Olympic trials in the sport of ski jumping. Anton's pursuit of the sport for which their father had an undying love, made him the "golden child," despite his sleazy business dealings, which may have been passed on to him from their father. The brothers' trips down memory lane are packed with so much love, but it's buried under so much resentment and misunderstanding that you wonder if they will ever find common ground. The past gradually reveals answers to how their family became a broken one, but the journey of Jon's effort to set things right before his entire life changes is well-worth the hopeful hike.
As with every burnished novel he's written to date, Geye's story shines bright with storytelling of the highest caliber, with a whodunit to boot.
— Jessilynn

Now in paperback: a writer and former ski jumper facing a terminal diagnosis takes one more leap—into a past of soaring flights and broken family bonds

A brilliant ski jumper has to be fearless—Jon Bargaard remembers this well. His memories of daring leaps and risks might be the key to the book he’s always wanted to write: a novel about his family, beginning with Pops, once a champion ski jumper himself, who also took Jon and his younger brother Anton to the heights. But Jon has never been able to get past the next, ruinous episode of their history, and now that he has received a terrible diagnosis, he’s afraid he never will.


In a bravura performance, Peter Geye follows Jon deep into the past he tried so hard to leave behind, telling the story he spent his life escaping. It begins with a flourish, his father and his hard-won sweetheart fleeing Chicago, and a notoriously ruthless gangster, to land in North Minneapolis. That, at least, was the tale Jon heard, one that becomes more and more suspect as he revisits the events that eventually tore the family in two, sending his father to prison, his mother to the state hospital, and placing himself, a teenager, in charge of thirteen-year-old Anton. Traveling back and forth in time, Jon tells his family’s story—perhaps his last chance to share it—to his beloved wife Ingrid, circling ever closer to the truth about those events and his own part in them, and revealing the perhaps unforgivable violence done to the brothers’ bond.


The dream of ski jumping haunts Jon as his tale unfolds, daring time to stop just long enough to stick the landing. As thrilling as those soaring flights, as precarious as the Bargaard family’s complicated love, as tender as Jon’s backward gaze while disease takes him inexorably forward, Peter Geye’s gorgeous prose brings the brothers to the precipice of their relationship, where they have to choose: each other, or the secrets they’ve held so tightly for so long.



Cover alt text: Lightly gradiented periwinkle sky background with white cloud in upper right corner and snow in lower left. At top, a cutout black-and-white image of a ski jumper appears and is cut off at the neck. Foreground: Book title in all-caps red, with author name beneath in all-caps white and “A Novel” beneath in all-cap dark grey. All text reads at a motion slant.

Peter Geye is author of the award-winning novels Safe from the Sea, The Lighthouse Road, Wintering (winner of the Minnesota Book Award), and Northernmost. He teaches the yearlong Novel Writing Project at the Loft Literary Center. Born and raised in Minneapolis, he continues to live there with his family.

Product Details ISBN: 9781517913502
ISBN-10: 1517913500
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press
Publication Date: November 14th, 2023
Pages: 408
Language: English

"The Ski Jumpers is a remarkable story about love: between two brothers, and between a father and son. But it's also about the intense love of place, and a time in three lives when gravity had less hold and a spirit might fly. Peter Geye brilliantly captures the physicality of our connection to a landscape and to the moments when—despite incalculable loss—we bring the best of ourselves."—Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars, The River, and The Guide

"Peter Geye writes full-hearted novels made for winter, and The Ski Jumpers is his best to date. I love these stoic Bargaards, whose religion of flight embraces profane saints, secret chambers, and dazzling acts of sacrifice. Geye wraps his tale in prose that soars as we hold our breath, then brings it all home with the elegance of a Telemark landing. If you already know his work, this book will surprise and delight you; if you're new to Peter Geye, The Ski Jumpers is the perfect place to start."—Leif Enger, author of Virgil Wander

"With great warmth and insight, Peter Geye has crafted a multi-generational epic of a talented family haunted by secrets and mystery. At its heart is the story of two estranged Minnesota brothers, each devastated in different ways by the past and facing uncertain futures, who must now rekindle their bond to save each other. With a family history forged by crime, betrayal, abandonment, and the unalienable thrill and heartbreak of a dangerous sport, the only thing more elusive than victory is forgiveness—and forgiving oneself may be the hardest task of all. Geye's tender, patient storytelling, exhilarating tension, and indelibly Midwestern characters make The Ski Jumpers unforgettable."—J. Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

"This elegiac waking dream of a writer and former ski jumper colliding with his own mortality is a timeless, weightless leap into the winter air of memory; with landing will come irreversible loss, and an ending. In Peter Geye’s achingly beautiful story of city and north woods, of complex family relationships and surprising sacrifices and strengths, an appreciative maturity emerges, a wisdom grown from age and experience."—Linda LeGarde Grover, author of In the Night of Memory

"Like its ski jumping protagonists, this family saga takes flight with a hammering heart and soars through questions of debt, failure, courage, and reconciliation. It's both distinctly Minnesotan and hugely humane. . . I was deeply moved."—Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviors


"If Geye is Minnesota’s Thoreau, then his Pond is a frozen lake."—Star Tribune


"The strong physicality intrinsic to Peter’s storytelling, along with moving in time, form the scaffolding of this family tale set between Minneapolis and the North Woods. An ideal novel to savor by a fireplace with a warm blanket and hot cup of coffee as the snow beats the windows."—Lake Superior Magazine


"The delicate balance of family dynamics and the unshakable grip that the past holds on the present are center stage in the heartfelt latest from Geye."—Publishers Weekly


"My notion from Ski Jumpers by Peter Geye is that a similar trajectory upward and outward may represent an image that traces this fine novel in its characters and its geography toward a genuine place in UP literature."—UP Book Review


"Geye writes brilliantly about the action of ski jumping and the mix of fear and wonder young athletes encounter. The book makes a worthy read regardless of the season."—Mankato Free Press


"A former ski jumper, Geye has written a story about love and alienation between brothers and their love for their father, a former champion jumper."—Pioneer Press


"Filled with complex family relationships, sacrifices and love, The Ski Jumpers is a heart-wrenching novel that everyone should read."—Northern Wilds


"Lifelong Minneapolis resident Peter Geye has written the perfect novel to help readers get excited about another Wisconsin winter. Geye is a former ski jumper, just like the book’s narrator, and his experience allows descriptions of the sport to soar sky-high."—Isthmus


"If you’re a fan of arresting family dramas with a bit of a twist, complex and provocative characters, breathtaking landscapes wrapped in luminous prose, The Ski Jumpers is your next read."—Superior Reads


"A former ski jumper himself, Peter Geye brings authenticity and exhilaration to those sections of his new novel that concern the sport. "—Minnesota Alumni Magazine


"A wonderful story of two brothers, what joined and divided them, and their reconciliation after the death of their father."—Madison Magazine