There have been many changes in fourteen-year-old Meaghan’s life; her father’s death two years previously, her mother’s remarriage and resulting step-family, including a much disliked stepsister, Laura, and a move from the city to the country. Plagued by visions of darkness, the black hearse, the black hole her Dad was put in, Meaghan is having difficulty coping with her new life. She reaches out to the comfort of a next door neighbour, Sarah Johnston, an elderly black woman who does her gardening at night and appears to have an uncanny clairvoyant ability. Sarah tells Meaghan about her ancestors who escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad in 1849 and shows her the tiny money box her great grandmother brought with her. When Meaghan opens the box it transports her back to 1849 to the bleak reality of slavery among Sarah’s ancestors. Using the tin box to travel back and forth Meaghan becomes involved in effort to free Sarah’s ancestors. She turns to her new step-sister, Laura, for help.
At first unwilling, Laura finds herself drawn into the escape plans and declaring a temporary truce, the step-sisters endure fear, cold, hunger and heart-breaking setbacks through swamps and mountains to bring Sarah’s family to Canada. In doing so Laura and Meaghan cautiously begin to accept each other and learn a valuable lesson in dignity, self-worth and caring.
- Nominated 1997/1998 Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award.
- “The Year’s Best” for 1996 – Resource Links
“Excellent, scary, moving young adult story. Recommended.”
— True Review
“Best of all, the author has developed the book’s metaphors with more than ordinary touches of subtlety and grace.”
— Canadian Book Review Annual 1997
North To Liberty: The story of the Underground Railroad by White, Anne Terry
The Underground Railroad: Anna Maria Weens by Lind, Jane
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by Elish, Dan
The Last Safe House: A Story of the Underground Railroad by Greenwood, Barbara