Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin


Bold writers tackle difficult topics; brave writers tackle taboo topics. Kim McLarin is a brave writer.

Too many writers today delve into the darker sides of human nature, fascinated by what goes on in the mind of a serial killer, a run-of-the-mill murderer, a pedophile, without giving the reader a sense that the writer actually has been there. In Jump at the Sun, McLarin gives the impression that she, her close family and friends have been where she is.

A black female author, who writes in this book about black women who break one of the most enduring stereotypes, that of mother, challenges readers to rethink those same stereotypes.

Grace Jefferson is the latest in a family of black women who go back to slavery. She struggles with a lack of motherly feelings about her children. In searching to understand why she is not fulfilled with motherhood, she revisits other women in her family. Her grandmother left the share cropper farm where they lived after the end of the Civil War, left her daughter, followed a local man to the big city where life was supposed to be better. The man returned to the country; the woman stayed. Years later, the woman sends for her oldest daughter to help with new babies she's had since leaving.

In a near rebellion against her own mother, the daughter sacrifices everything, including her dreams and her sense of self, when her own children come along. And Grace, with her PhD and an upwardly middle class lifestyle, isn't satisfied with being a stay-at-home mother. She seeks answers from her mother and grandmother, only to realize she is the only one who can resolve her feeling about her children.

Powerful, rich in language, dangerous in daring to challenge stereotypes, this literary novel begs to be enjoyed slowly, savoring each page, each paragraph. You won't be disappointed.

For those of us women who consciously chose not to have children, this book helps validate our decision. Too many times well-meaning snoops have asked me why I never had my own children. Other than I don't relate to babies and young children, it's none of their business. I answer gently that I am pro-choice is a way they might understand. No, I didn't have an abortion. I just made sure I never needed one by not getting pregnant. For McLarin to write so powerfully about choices women make resonated deeply inside me.

3 comments:

  1. This sounds like a novel that will indeed resonate with a certain demograph of women - and that type of book needs written just as much as any other. My oldest daughter doesn't want children, and while that may change as she ages and experiences more of life, I assure the choice is hers and there's nothing wrong with that decision. I've certainly had moments where I wondered what the hell I was thinking when I had children. :)

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  2. I've actually prying people ask if I were barren, as if I was somehow damaged goods. Trust me. I'm a much better aunt and grandmother than a mother.

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