cover image Jump into the Sky

Jump into the Sky

Shelley Pearsall. Knopf, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-375-83699-2

Pearsall’s impressively detailed and voice-driven piece of historical fiction is set in the unstable year of 1945. Thirteen-year-old Levi Battle knows about abandonment: his mother left him on the seat of a car before skipping town when he was an infant, and his father, a paratrooper, left him with his Aunt Odella in Chicago after joining the military a few years ago. Now, out of nowhere, Aunt Odella has decided to send Levi by train to North Carolina, where his father is stationed. Levi has led a sheltered life, and the discrimination and violence he faces as an African-American in the South come as a shock. Unaware of Levi’s trip, his father is long gone when Levi arrives, so Cal, an injured soldier, and his pregnant wife, Peaches, take Levi in. Soon, the trio heads west to Oregon where Levi is reunited with his father. Pearsall (All Shook Up) constructs a tense and authentic portrait of WWII-era segregation and prejudice. The well-drawn setting, dynamic cast of characters, and Levi’s moral musings will command readers’ attention. Ages 10–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)