By Jean Ferris
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374372439, 176pp.)
Publication Date: October 16, 2007
In 1839, visitors from miles around come to Kentucky to tour Mammoth Cave. But sixteen-year-old Charlotte, the maid at Mammoth Cave Hotel, doesn't understand its appeal. As a slave, she is already trapped, and she doesn't see the point in risking being trapped underground as well. Still, she's curious when Stephen Bishop, another slave who is the cave's expert guide and chief explorer, makes some big discoveries underground, and she's interested in Stephen himself, with his quick mind and kind ways. Then Charlotte makes a discovery of her own: runaway slaves sometimes come to the hotel seeking refuge. As she helps them, she wonders if she should run away. Stephen, on the other hand, feels that he belongs with the cave and that he is free enough when he is underground. When an opportunity presents itself, Charlotte must decide whether she should stay with Stephen or risk everything for her own chance at freedom.
In this compelling novel, two young people explore what sorts of freedom they can find, even as slaves.
JEAN FERRIS is the author of many novels for young people, including Of Sound Mind, Bad, and Across the Grain, all ALA Best Books for Young Adults. She lives in San Diego, California.
"Ferris manages to strike a good balance between history and her imagination. Her prose is vivid, the characters strong, the narrative well constructed, and readers who are interested in further historical research will be rewarded with a satisfying real-life coda to the story."—The New York Times Book Review "What a great historical read!" —Winston-Salem Journal "Careful groundwork sets up both a love story and a daring adventure, which dramatically collide in a well-executed climax." —Publishers Weekly "Ferris weaves interesting details about the daily life of slaves into her fastpaced story. Historical information about the Underground Railroad is also seamlessly included in this suspenseful page-turner, as is an overall sense of respect for the cave itself." —Bookpage "This fast-paced historical novel offers readers an engrossing story and a unique perspective on a familiar subject."—Kirkus Reviews "Students interested in the Underground Railroad...will appreciate this evocative read."—School Library Journal