This is the tenth of a many-part series written by the staff and editors of Fringe Magazine, who will be reviewing books from the Pool as part of the 25 Books Project.
There’s something about reading a book by someone you see on a regular basis—something that makes the book somehow more personal, more complex, more relevant to your own daily life than it would be had it been written by a complete stranger. This is how I felt, at least, when reading Jump at the Sun, the newest novel by Emerson Writer-in-Residence Kim McLarin. With each page, heroine Grace Jefferson’s story seemed entwined with my own.
Except that Grace Jefferson is an affluent, married, African-American mother of two—demographics I know nothing about. Also, though McLarin is a familiar face around Emerson, I have never had her as a professor or really even spoken to her. So why was reading this book such a personal experience? McLarin’s writing is so visceral and her characters so real that we, as readers, are drawn inside the book.
Jump at the Sun tells Grace’s story from her own point of view, with flashbacks woven in throughout telling the stories of her grandmother and mother. As this triumvirate of narratives unfolds, McLarin deftly explores questions of race, marriage, class, and motherhood—questions that span geography and generations.
Though Grace Jefferson is blessed with a beautiful home, healthy children, and a loving husband, she feels like an impostor in her own life. Confronted with her feelings of regret and doubt, she must try to find a happy medium between the two models of motherhood in her life—her mother’s nearly self-destructive degree of devotion to her children and her grandmother’s tendency to cut and run. Grace’s search for answers culminates in a breath-taking climax you won’t soon forget.
Jillian D’Urso is a second-year graduate student in the Publishing and Writing program at Emerson College. In her abundant spare time, she enjoys coffee, The Office, and 90s music.