Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall
Folks were always leaving Levi. That's how he even got his name. His momma picked up and left one morning with a note left on him as a baby: I AM LEVIN. It took them a while to figure out she meant "leaving". Somehow, the baby came to be called Levin and it turned into Levi.
Knopf Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you). It is just being published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.
This is fictional history. The author has extensively researched this era and has talked to a surviving soldier about his life experiences during his time with this group of soldiers. It was 1945, Jim Crow was still alive in the south, and soldiers were still segregated. It's a shame some of those attitudes still survive in present day.
Levi's aunt decides it's time for his father to take care of him. She puts him a train in Chicago and sends him south to N Carolina to meet his father on base. Not only does his father not know he's coming, Levi has no idea what prejudices he will be facing in the south. He'd never seen any of that in his short life in Chicago.
The people Levi meets are nice for the most part. He learns fast not to mix with or bother white folk. As he moves one more time, he still hopes to meet up with his father, but he's not sure how that's going work out.
This has a lot of historical content in it but it is made into such an interesting story you don't notice the facts you're picking up. You learn that black soldiers were ostracized, that while they learned to become parachute jumpers they were only used for fire fighting, and you begin to wonder just how many things they are told are lies. It's almost like being in a bad marriage.
Why not talk a walk back into 1945 and follow Levi on his journey and see how life was for a young black family? It's a bit sad, but it also shows how faith in yourself and love of family can hold you together and make you better. It's a good read.
Another note: Today is the 67th anniversary of VJ Day.