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Gr 6-9-Levi has been left behind all of his life, first by his mother when he was an infant, then by his father for a job and later the Army, and now by his aunt for relief from the responsibility of raising him. Toward the end of World War II, Aunt Odella puts the 13-year-old on a train by himself from Chicago to North Carolina to join his father who is stationed there, without telling her brother. Upon reaching the base, Levi learns that his father's unit, an all-black paratrooper unit, has just shipped out for Oregon. One of the men is still on base recuperating from an injury. He and his family take Levi into their home until they can rejoin the unit. Slowly Levi and his father begin to learn about each other after their three-year separation, and Levi also learns the meaning of sticking up for who and what you believe in. Although the title leads one to think the book is about the paratroopers, the primary focus is on Levi and the wartime home front as the color lines were beginning to change. While Levi rails against the segregation in the South and the "invisibility" he finds in the West, the African American paratroopers are frustrated that although they are well trained, they are not allowed to fight for their country. This fine historical novel is well written and Levi is a fully developed character. However, readers looking for action and adventure should look elsewhere.-Nancy Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Odella believes war is so close to ending that she sends her nephew Levi from Chicago to his father at Camp Mackall, in North Carolina. But she overlooks the treacherous journey the boy will face in the Jim Crow South of 1945, and the fact that her brother, on active duty, has no clue Levi is arriving. The train adventure is traumatic for the innocent Levi, and he almost loses his life to a gun-toting store owner in Fayetteville: “All I’d asked for was a soda pop. . . . But the look in that man’s eyes had been pure straight evil.” Then it gets worse: Dad’s unit, an elite African American paratrooper battalion, has just shipped out to Oregon. Levi meets and stays with a soldier from his dad’s unit until they join up with the battalion. Pearsall captures the soul and bravery of gentle Levi, who, along with the adults in his life, is never safe from the humiliations of bigotry. This poignant, powerful tale of father and son getting to know each other in small, delicate steps is suffused with Levi’s yearning for approval. Strong characterizations on all sides support the weighty story line. Best of all is the fascinating tale of the “Triple Nickel” 555th Paratrooper Infantry Battalion. Grades 5-8. --Anne OMalleySee all Editorial Reviews
I very much enjoyed reading this book. It deals with some harsh topics in respectful tones safe enough for upper elementary students. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Terese
This book gives a glimpse of life for a young American in our history. I would recommend it for all ages.Published 3 months ago by jmcdougall
Really well done. This was a Battle of the Books selection. My whole family enjoyed it a lot. I will cheerfully buy more from the author in the future.Published 8 months ago by Scott L. Sammons
This was a wonderful story about a young boy's longing for love and acceptance laced with a powerful little known historical information about the first African American... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
Good story, but if you listen to it you will be disappointed that it is narrated by a white male. Would have had a better tone to it with an African American voice.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing book probably the best war book I ever read. Its a great story and teaches us all a lessonPublished 20 months ago by Randy Gale
I have a keen interest in American History, and this book taught me something completely new about World War II. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Team LitPick