Shelley Pearsall’s novel, Jump into the Sky, is a wonderful glimpse into a little known part of World War II history. It’s 1945 and the war is winding down. Thirteen-year-old Levi Battle’s father has been gone three years serving his country, leaving Levi with his aunt for the duration, but now Aunt Odella is sending Levi south to Fort Mackall, North Carolina. Readers get a glimpse of the horror that was the Jim Crow era as Levi travels further south. Finding that his father’s unit had already been deployed to Fort Pendleton, Oregon on a secret mission to protect the west coast of the United States from Japanese attack.
If you enjoyed Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, 1963 or Bud, Not Buddy you will like this novel. Levi reminds me of a combination of Kenny and Bud, the narrators of those books and like those books this book is written in first person. Readers wanting to know more about African American contributions to the war effort will also enjoy learning about the little known 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, or Triple Nickels. Check out the video below showing some of the Triple Nickels in training.
If you enjoy this book, you might also like to read Courage has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels by Tanya Lee Stone.