Rattling over the rails, Levi tries to figure out how he got here, dress shirt covered with coal dust, stuck on a “Jim Crow” train car so very far away from home. Why his Aunt decided right now it was time for him to be with his father on an Army base during the War, he’ll never know.
Sure, he missed his dad, but in 1945 so many fathers and brothers and cousins were gone. If it wasn’t war-time, the Army wouldn’t let a colored man be an officer, says everyone in their Chicago neighborhood, and not one single soul believes that Charles Battle is a paratrooper.
It doesn’t help that Levi’s jazz-singer mother left home when he was a little baby, that his father has no idea that the tall thirteen-year-old is on his way to North Carolina to join him, that Aunt Odella’s prayers and fried chicken might not get him safely to Fort Bragg.
Levi couldn’t believe that white people in the South would act so hateful, but he learns quickly to stay away from town, stick with the other black soldiers’ families, and be ready to move at a moment’s notice. When the Army says leave for Oregon, off they go, Levi helping Sgt. Cal’s wife with the new baby on the long cross-country trip.
But why is the 555th battalion really in Pendleton? Is it just busy-work to make it look like the Army is letting black soldiers fight? What if Lt. Battle doesn’t come back from the next mission or the one after that?
Based on the history of the real 555th, this journey of discovery will take readers back to the home front during World War II as Levi watches his father and brothers-in-arms Jump Into the Sky to defend the USA, whether acknowledged for their bravery or not.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at http://BooksYALove.blogspot.com