When Mariah and her young brother Zeke are suddenly freed from slavery, they join Sherman's march through Georgia. Mariah wants to believe that the brutalities of slavery are behind them, but even as hope glimmers, there are many hardships yet to come. When she meets a free black named Caleb, Mariah dreams in a way she never dared . . . of a future worth living and the possibility of true love. But even hope comes at a cost, and as the difficult march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah's dreams are as vulnerable as ever.
In this powerful exploration of a little-known tragedy perfect for fans of Ruta Sepetys, readers will never forget the souls of Ebenezer Creek.
"*Starred Review* Award-winning Bolden's latest takes readers back to 1864, the waning days of the Civil War. In rural Georgia, recently emancipated Mariah hides in the root cellar when Sherman's troops sweep into town. Joining the march, she meets Caleb, a young black man whose manner of dress and comfort with the white Union soldiers raises an eyebrow among Mariah and other formerly enslaved people. As they march toward Ebenezer Creek, Caleb develops feelings for Mariah, while she struggles to believe in her newfound freedom and plan for a future for herself and her younger brother, Zeke. Caleb and Mariah both harbor secrets and pasts that shape their worldviews, but they're starting to warm to each other when the unthinkable happens. Chapters alternating between Mariah's and Caleb's points-of-view lay bare the differences between the experiences of a free black man and those of an enslaved woman. Caleb's journal entries, for instance, signal a desire to publish or own a newspaper, while enraged Mariah laments, colored lives don't matter. With keen insight, Bolden mines a lesser-known historical event and brings the human cost vividly to life. In particular, the moment when the freed men and women are abandoned by the creek as Confederate forces descend will surprise and horrify many readers. Bolden's trenchant, powerful novel is a strong testament to the many lost lives that certainly did and still do matter.--Barnes, Jennifer Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Since the start of the Civil War, Mariah has dreamed of a Yankee victory that will grant her and her fellow enslaved men, women, and children their freedom. After Union soldiers show up to loot her Georgia plantation in November 1864, she, her younger brother Zeke, and many others join the 14th Army Corps of the left wing of General Sherman's army as it marches through Georgia. When a kind black man named Caleb invites her and Zeke to ride in his wagon, Mariah-generous hearted herself-accepts, bringing along a traumatized woman who cannot care for herself. The attraction between Caleb and Mariah is allowed to grow slowly and quietly, expressed only in each one's thoughts, over 12 days on the march. Readers learn, along with Mariah, about the war through Caleb's stories; the close-knit ties among the formerly enslaved members of the company are depicted through their experiences on the march, while the trials of their daily lives are revealed through Mariah's mostly silent memories. Bolden (Capital Days) bravely concludes this concise, moving story with a historically accurate and horrifying ending. Ages 13-up. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Lyons Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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