The flyer reads, "One dark mulatto runaway, aged fourteen, well dressed and bright..." Blanche thinks he has it good. He has risen above the field hands to a position helping run a printing press. He's well fed, never physically mistreated, and he has taught himself to read, though he keeps the illicit skill a secret. Most importantly, he has been promised a chance at emancipation. Then, in a single bloody morning, his world is overturned, his master lies dead, and his widow has no intention of following through with her husband's promise to free him. Blanche would never have considered running away from his old life, but faced with the prospect of being sold as a laborer or worse, he forges his free papers and flees north, a fugitive, to create his own future. Only a few steps ahead of the slave catchers, he travels hundreds of miles across the violent backdrop of "bleeding Kansas" in the 1850s, a land torn by apart by two very different visions of humanity. This richly researched work of fiction weaves actual historical characters and institutions into the gripping story of a young man born into slavery but resolute in his quest for freedom.