Set in 1856 Missouri, seventeen-year-old Mariah Rainey has lived with little hope that life will be any different for her than it has been for her mother–living in poverty with an abusive husband and five children. Upon the death of her mother at her father’s hand, Mariah is suddenly thrown into survival mode: charged with her mother’s dying wish that she take the children to safety, far away to someplace green. She quickly must learn the skills of a man in order to protect her siblings from her father and to somehow make an escape to her mother’s family in Kentucky via the old abandoned Wilderness Road out of Independence.
With her father sure to follow, Mariah and her younger sister, Lolly, disguise themselves as young men and take off with their baby brother, Trill, to face the treacherous journey to freedom. Able to handle any crisis along the trail, Mariah thrives as a man, but she can never escape the wrath of her father or the horrible retribution he will exact upon her and everyone she loves.