When ten-year-old Chow Lei witnesses her parent’s brutal murder she becomes emotionally scarred for life. Her maternal grandmother adopts her and attempts to help her, but only when Chow Lei joins a Shaolin Kung Fu school does any emotional healing occur.
In 1739, England and Spain are on the verge of war and former slaves are arriving in St. Augustine, where the Spanish will give them their freedom in exchange for their loyalty. Fourteen-year-old Jem has escaped a cruel master but is now in the custody of Phaedra, a difficult and angry woman. He thought he was free, he thought he was a man – but Phaedra controls his every move and takes every opportunity to remind him that he’s still a child. And as the threat of war becomes more real, Jem starts to understand the meaning of freedom and the complex connections that make a community.