By Harriet Hyman Alonso, Elizabeth Zunon
Thirteen-year-old Martha and seven-year-old Jake must do what adults cannot to ensure their own and others’ freedom.
Martha Bartlett has a secret. Her life has already been changed by the Underground Railroad. Now the safety of her younger brother Jake depends on her willingness to risk her own life to bring Jake home to their abolitionist community in Connecticut. It’s 1854 and though all people in the North are supposed to be free, seven-year-old Jake, the orphan of a fugitive slave, learns otherwise. Using aliases, disguises, and other subterfuges, his older sister Martha struggles to elude slave catchers while adhering to her parents’ admonition to always tell the truth. Being perceived sometimes as white, sometimes as black during a perilous journey also throws her sense of her own identity into turmoil. Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope, and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.