Christopher Award–winning author Jerdine Nolen imagines a young woman’s journey from slavery to freedom in this intimate and powerful novel that was named an ALA/YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.
It is 1854 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sold away and Eliza is left as a slave on a Virginia farm. It is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when she isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has only the quilt her mother left her and the stories her mother told to keep her mother’s memory close.
When the Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of the Slave sale auction and of Eliza being traded, she takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe: “Travel the night. Sleep the day…Go east. Keep your back to the setting of the sun. Come to the safe house with a candlelight in the window…That gal, Harriet, she’ll take you.”
All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her as she travels along her freedom road from Mary’s Land to Pennsylvania to Freedom’s Gate in St. Catharines, Canada, where she finds not only her freedom but also more than she could have hoped for.
In praise of the book, Alma Powell said, “A story of hope, determination, and the triumph of the human spirit.”
Jerdine Nolen is the beloved author of many award-winning books, including Big Jabe; Thunder Rose, a Coretta Scott King Illlustrator Honor Book; and Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, all illustrated by Kadir Nelson. She is also the author of Eliza’s Freedom Road, illustrated by Shadra Strickland, which was an ALA/YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults; Raising Dragons, illustrated by Elise Primavera, which received the Christopher Award; and Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm, illustrated by Mark Buehner, which was made into a movie by the same name. Her other books include Calico Girl, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, and Irene’s Wish, illustrated by A.G. Ford, which Kirkus Reviews called “delightful and memorable” in a starred review. Ms. Nolen is an educator and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Shadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picture book, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Visit her online at ShadraStrickland.com.