In 1860, while the issue of slavery is being hotly debated, a recently widowed young lawyer named Matthew Penny arrives in Oregon. Worthy Brown, a slave from Georgia, has also moved to the new state with his owner, Caleb Barbour. Barbour has promised to free Worthy and his daughter, Roxanne, after Worthy helps his owner build a homestead. Barbour finally emancipates Worthy, but he refuses to free Roxanne. When Worthy asks Matthew Penny to bring Barbour to justice, a tragic series of events unfolds.
Based on a true story, this thought-provoking novel explores the complex moral choices made by Worthy, Matthew Penny, and Roxanne, as well as each person’s desire to make life-altering sacrifices. Philip Margolin has created deeply moral characters set in a time of great injustice when many people considered owning slaves their divine right and where vigilante justice often prevailed. (HarperCollins)