Jump at the Sun [NOOK Book]


After a series of stressful personal transitions, Grace Jefferson finds herself in a new house in a new city and in a new career for which she feels dangerously unsuited: a stay-at-home mom. An educated and accomplished modern woman, a child of the Civil Rights dream, she is caught between the only two models of mothering she has ever known—a sharecropping grandmother who abandoned her children to save herself and a mother who sacrificed all to save her kids—as she struggles to find a middle ground. But as the ...

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Jump at the Sun

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After a series of stressful personal transitions, Grace Jefferson finds herself in a new house in a new city and in a new career for which she feels dangerously unsuited: a stay-at-home mom. An educated and accomplished modern woman, a child of the Civil Rights dream, she is caught between the only two models of mothering she has ever known—a sharecropping grandmother who abandoned her children to save herself and a mother who sacrificed all to save her kids—as she struggles to find a middle ground. But as the days pass and the pressures mount, Grace begins to catch herself in small acts of abandonment that she fears may foretell a future she is powerless to prevent . . . or perhaps secretly seeks.

Jump at the Sun is a novel about an isolating suburban life and the continuing legacy of slavery, about generational change and the price of living the dream for which our parents fought. In her bold and fearless voice, Kim McLarin explores both the highs and lows of being a mother, and how breaking the cycle of suffocation and regret, while infuriatingly difficult, is absolutely necessary.

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Editorial Reviews

Patricia Elam
… most readers will find Grace's desperation heartfelt and her journey absorbing, as told in vigorous, luxuriant prose. Her eventual visit to her grandmother, accompanied by her own mother, is a poignant, heartbreaking scene, and Grace's question still haunts us after the book is closed: "Isn't everything everybody ever does about their mother in some way?"
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
With a big house in an upscale Boston suburb, a doting scientist husband and two cute daughters, Grace, heroine of this penetrating novel of family affection and disaffection, is living the middle-class black woman's dream. But as she tends to her kids' wearying demands, fends off her husband's desire for a son and watches her sociology Ph.D. go to waste, she feels like "a claustrophobic in a mining shaft" and fantasizes about ditching her family. It's no idle daydream-her grandmother Rae repeatedly abandoned her children to search for whatever satisfactions life had to offer a Mississippi sharecropper's daughter, while her mother, Mattie, who sacrificed her happiness for her children's, offers an object lesson in the toll that family devotion can take. McLarin (Taming It Down) weaves the stories of three generations of mothers and daughters in astringent prose ("You couldn't be expected to live without them, but you'd better remember at all times, even with the good ones, that it was you against them," Grace muses of the wild cards that are men). Her characters chafe against the bonds of poverty, racism and feminine stereotypes, but their deeper struggle is to resolve their longing for fulfillment with ties of the heart. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Washington Post
“readers will find Grace’s desperation heartfelt and her journey absorbing, as told in vigorous, luxuriant prose.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
The book moves like a white-water rafting trip, zipping along through treacherous waters. McLarin’s muscular writing spares nobody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061865541
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 388,678
  • File size: 386 KB

Meet the Author

Kim McLarin is respected as "one of the bravest novelists in recent times" (Philadelphia Tribune). She is a former journalist for the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Associated Press, among other news organizations. The author of the critically acclaimed novels Taming It Down and Meeting of the Waters, McLarin is currently writer-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Jump at the Sun

A Novel
By Kim McLarin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Kim McLarin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060528494

Chapter One

My mother says: Be careful what you do on New Year's Day.

Be careful because you'll find yourself repeating those actions for the rest of the year. New Year's Day is a template, a groove worn in twenty-four short hours, and thereafter impossible to escape. If you wake to find yourself licking the bathroom tiles, look forward to a year of drunkenness. If you're in the kitchen until dinnertime, whipping up a feast for the gathering hordes, prepare for twelve months of domestic servitude. If you are praying, that's good, and if you are in the hospital, that's unfortunate, and if you're traveling, you might as well go on and keep those bags packed. Or so my mother says.

My mother, Mattie Jefferson, is sixtyish, Southern and black, a child of old Jim Crow, and this was only one of a vat full of superstitions in which she was steeped as a girl. I, on the other hand, am a modern woman, a rational, highly educated Brown Baby, the fulfillment of so many, many dreams. I have tossed off the weight of superstition, I chose logic and rationality. I do not believe. I do not believe eating collards on New Year's Day will fatten my wallet or that consuming black-eyed peas ensures good luck. I do not believe if thefirst person through my doorway that primary morning is a woman, misfortune will surely follow yapping on her heels. (Let's pause a moment to acknowledge the misogynist riptide swirling under that particular belief. My mother used to keep us locked down on New Year's morning until our neighbor Mr. Bones -- red-eyed and stinking from the night's festivities -- could stagger down the street to our house and free us with the gift of his testosterone.)

I believe none of it, and still I soak the peas and wash the greens and even let my husband step out to the front walk for the newspaper if he is up and about. I tell Eddie the reason is not superstition but tradition: a harmless bit of Southern black cultural heritage to pass on to the kids, one of the few gifts my grandmother gave to me. I tell him we are a disconnected people, severed from our rich African legacy, reaping still the whirlwind of all that fracturing and rootlessness. I tell him human beings need ritual to frame and navigate the chaos of life, and that our children especially and Our Children particularly must be given these touchstones in order to survive. I remind him I am a sociologist and thus trained to see these things. But Eddie is not stupid; he knows there is more to it than that. And so do I, though what the more is I could not precisely say.

All of which is to say when I found myself trapped in the basement on New Year's Day, I might have known trouble was coming. I might have known chaos would rule the year.

Also because I feared I might be pregnant again. And while this should have been good news -- was the best of all possible good news to my husband -- and while I wanted it to be good news to my own scarred heart, it wasn't.

Also because I woke that morning thinking, I could leave them. Grandmother did.

Which scared the piss out of me.

And so, the basement. It began when Eddie and the children went off to brunch at his mother's house, leaving me alone.

"Sure you don't want to come?" he asked as he bundled Paula into her coat. He was asking not because he desperately desired my company but because he disliked taking the children out into the world unassisted. And also because he knew his mother would be disappointed and Eddie hated to disappoint his mother. She would take my absence as a slight; I'd have to grovel for days or weeks to regain a place on her slightly more pleasant side. Still, I begged off. "Tell your mother I'm sick," I said. "Tell her I'm not feeling well."

"She won't believe it," said Eddie.

"Then tell her I'm prostrate with menstrual cramps."

He made a face. "I don't think I can say that to her."

Eddie's mother was what my mother would call -- had called, at our wedding in fact -- high siddity -- a Vineyard-summering, hyperarticulating, card-carrying member of the Boston black bourgeois. Her maiden name was Harrison and she liked to affect that her family had come down directly from the president, though how, precisely, such a thing might have happened she did not like to say. Her husband's name was Monroe and she had aspirations about that, too, but none that she could prove. The first time we met she asked who my people were and where we hailed from, and when I told her she gave her son a look of such raw, withering disappointment I wanted to drag myself out behind the barn and put me down. When we told her I was keeping my own last name of Jefferson, she smiled and said, "That's probably just as well, dear."

I knew Eddie would rather burn his lips with a hot poker than say the word menstrual to this woman. And she would rather that he did.

But that was their problem. I had my own, potentially, and I wanted everyone out of the house so I could sit in peace with it and figure out what to do. "Then just tell her I'm having a nervous breakdown," I said. "That'll make her day."

Eddie was struggling to stuff Paula's hand into her mitten, but he paused long enough to search my face. "Is this about last night? You're not still worried, are you?"

"I'm fine," I lied. "You guys go and have a good time." Because even in marriage, there comes a time when it is every person for herself.


Excerpted from Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin Copyright © 2006 by Kim McLarin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Pretty good book, but definitely not earth shattering.

    This book was ok Not on my favoites list. Deals with the struggles of being a a woman, wife and mother. Also deals with motherhood from a nature vs. nurture perspective. I did like how the author used several generations of family history to build the protagonist's personality and character.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2006

    deep character study

    Ph.D. Grace Jefferson seems to be living the American dream. Her husband adores her and her two delightful daughters cherish her. They reside in a wonderfully large suburban home in the Boston area where her spouse is a highly regarded scientist and their kids attend the best schools. --- So Grace asks herself why she is unhappy. Perhaps it is in her DNA to want to flee family responsibility as her sharecropping Grandma Rae did in Mississippi and her mom Mattie did not. In fact she wonders if she fears she is sacrificing her life for her family just like Mattie did. Though guilt threatens to suffocate her thoughts, Grace knows she loves her husband and their two children though currently their nagging demands are driving her crazy as she considers leaving the nest like Rae did and Mattie did not grandma seemed to have pursued happiness while mom sacrificed hers. --- JUMP AT THE SUN is a deep character study starring a fascinating woman who feels conflicting emotions that make any decisions difficult and somewhat unsatisfactory. Grace is a superb character as she is the epitome of Martin Luther King¿s I have a Dream with her education and her lifestyle but has doubts that is all there is as she is unhappy with her upper middle class existence. Though she openly detests de jure prejudice and proud of her state rejecting gay bashing laws like legally limiting marriages (Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country) and de facto prejudice (racial and gender poverty), Grace struggles with a deeper personal disaffection in this excellent thought provoking drama. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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