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Jump into the Sky

Cover of Jump into the Sky

Jump into the Sky

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Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman--until...
Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman--until...
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  • ATOS:
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Description-
  • Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman--until Levi's grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi's staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it's 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it's time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayettville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed--last they knew.

    So begins an eye-opening, life-changing journey for Levi. First lesson: there are different rules for African Americans in the South than there are in Chicago. And breaking them can have serious consequences. But with the help of some kind strangers, and despite the hindrances of some unkind ones, Levi makes his way across the United States--searching for his father and finding out about himself, his country, and what it truly means to belong.

    Shelley Pearsall has created an unforgettable character in Levi and gives readers a remarkable tour of 1945 America through his eyes. Jump into the Sky is a tour de force of historical fiction from a writer at the very top of her game.


    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    1. Fifth of May

    Whenever something bad happened, my aunt Odella was always quick to say how the end of one thing was the beginning of something else. During the war, she cooked for a lot of church funerals, where any comforting morsels of wisdom you could hand out to grieving folks with a plate of fried chicken and green beans sure came in real handy. Maybe that's where it all started, who knows.

    To be honest, the spring of 1945 was so full of endings, sometimes it was hard to make a guess as to what the beginnings might be. It was the end of Hitler, of course, although nobody would fry a chicken's eyeball over him being dead. A lot of people were saying it would be the end of the Nazis and the whole war itself pretty soon, if we were lucky. But the crazy Japs kept insisting no matter what happened, they'd keep on fighting forever.

    Seeing how often Aunt Odella handed out her funeral advice to other folks, I shoulda realized the day would come when she'd turn around and use the same words on me. But it was like the Japs sneaking up on Pearl Harbor while the entire country was sleeping. I was taken by complete surprise when she did.



    I remember it was early on a Saturday, the first week of May, when Aunt Odella came barging into my room like the blitz. I was loafing in bed, half asleep, half awake, my big feet drifting over the edge. They'd been doing that a lot. Or maybe the bed was drifting out from under them--I'm telling you, I was thirteen with feet the size of U‑boats.

    My mind was drifting too. I shoulda been thinking about my father, who was serving in the army, and who was still staring at me from the same picture frame he'd been stuck in since he left. Or my best friend Archie's older brother who was missing in action, they said, and who could be dead somewhere over there in Germany.

    But I gotta admit I was thinking about girls.

    I was wondering if the stocking on my scalp was gonna make any difference at all. Every Friday night Aunt Odella smeared my head with a thick coat of Vaseline and pulled one of her old stockings over my hair, pressing it down smooth. Then I had to wear the fool thing all night, praying like the dickens that there wouldn't be an air raid drill or half of Chicago would see me with ladies' hosiery stretched around my skull.

    "You gotta start early if you want good smooth hair when you grow up, so all those colored girls will like you," Aunt Odella insisted. Good hair lays flat. Bad hair springs up in clumps. Clumpy hair. That's what my aunt called it. Lately she'd been worrying a lot about my looks and my future.

    I tried telling Aunt Odella how there wasn't a girl who would get within a hundred and fifty miles of me if she knew I wore stockings and Vaseline on my head every Friday night. Heck, no girl got within fifty miles of me now anyhow, which was fine with me. "Good to hear it. You be sure and keep it that way," my aunt would say, slapping on some more grease.

    So I was lying there with a stocking stuck to my scalp and my big feet dangling over the bed when Aunt Odella came in that Saturday morning and made a beeline for the window next to me. She pounded her fist on the frame that hadn't moved since last November. "Open up." After pushing that stubborn window toward the sky, she took a deep gulp of the Chicago morning stink, turned around, and announced to me and the world, "It's a new day, Levi. And I've decided it's time to start thinking about your future."

    Like I said, this was a favorite theme of hers. The future. I gotta admit there were times during the war when none of us were real sure we'd get one, what with Hitler and all. But since Germany...

About the Author-
  • A former teacher and museum historian, SHELLEY PEARSALL is now a full-time writer. Her first novel, Trouble Don't Last, won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. To learn more about the author and her work, visit ShelleyPearsall.com.

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    Peer-to-peer usage: 
    Not permitted
    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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