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Cy Williams, thirteen, has always known that he and the other black folks on Strong's plantation have to obey white men, no question. Sure, he's free, as black people have been since his grandfather's day, but in rural Georgia, that means they're free to be whipped, abused, even killed. Almost four years later, Cy yearns for that freedom, such as it was. Now he's a chain gang laborer, forced to do backbreaking work, penned in and shackled like an animal, brutalized, beaten, and humiliated by the boss of the camp and his hired overseers. For Cy and the boys he's chained to, there's no way out, no way back.
And then hope begins to grow in him, along with strength and courage he didn't know he had. Cy is sure that a chance at freedom is worth any risk, any sacrifice. This powerful, moving story opens a window on a painful chapter in the history of race relations.
About the Author
David L. Dudley spent ten years as a parish pastor in the Lutheran Church before turning to university teaching. He is the Chair of the Department of Literature and Philosophy at Georgia Southern University, where he teaches African American literature. He has also taught prison extension courses. His published work includes numerous articles and essays as well as fiction for young readers. Dr. Dudley lives in Twin City, Georgia, with his wife.
"Full of emotionally charged depictions of brutality, physical abuse, and prejudice, Dudley's third historical novel is a tough and painful read. Dudley's use of dialect helps immerse readers in the injustice of the story, as he risks everything in the name of freedom."
"A ferociously well-paced book. . . Dudley invites a hard look at each individual's understanding of freedom, justice, and responsibility. It is a slanting truth across over a century in which much—and little—has changed."
—VOYA, 5Q 4P J S
"Life in the chain gang is relentlessly oppressive, violent, and heartbreaking. Cy's transformation from innocence to anger and, finally, with the support of his friends, to a leader willing to take risks is compelling."
—School Library Journal