A chance to escape. A chance to put all of the horror of being a slave to Callie Chaney behind them. Years of torture and abuse ending... prayers being answered....could this be real? Mariah hears the news. Slavery is over. She is free.
One by one the former slaves gather some possessions in bags and turn to follow the Union soldiers specifically, the army of William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman's army is roaring through the South on its way to Savannah with a determination to terrify the people of Georgia. If you beat the will of the people, the war is over.
Mariah, her brother Zeke, and all of her memories gather themselves into a wagon driven by a man named Caleb who works for Captain Galloway, a Union officer. As Mariah and her family and friends follow the soldiers to the "somewhere place," Mariah and Caleb become closer and closer. She finally has someone who can hear all her nightmares and horror. Caleb listens knowing he isn't telling her the full truth about his own life or his own demons.
Gritty, vivid, and heartbreaking the newly freed friends make their way toward the coast walking and riding in small wagons. Time together becomes the chance to tell each other the nightmares of their past. Hearts that have waited to love and hearts that have broken with shattering loss. Minds that have held together through sheer will.
Slavery on a day to day basis is hard to read about. Power and prejudice wielded in such inhumane fashion. It's easy to care about Mariah with her courage and her dedication. It's spirit-lifting to see her discover that she is falling in love. Injustice and violence don't disappear just because she is free.
This is an exceptional story about a piece of the American Civil War that isn't in the average textbook. It's very necessary that we look back at the excesses, the utter disregard for humanity, the cruelty that were perpetrated on the African Americans even as freedom was breaking its first light. The past is prologue. Great for classroom discussion about prejudice and arrogance in our own times.
230 pages 978-1599903194