Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Thirteen-year-old Martha Bartlett insists on being a part of the Underground Railroad rescue to bring her brother Jake back home to their abolitionist community in Connecticut. It's 1854 and though African-Americans and mixed-race peoples in the north are supposed to be free, seven-year-old Jake, the orphan of a fugitive slave, is kidnapped by his "owner" and taken south to Maryland. Jake is what we'd now describe as on the autism spectrum, and Martha knows just how to reassure him when he's anxious or fearful. Using aliases, disguises, and other subterfuges, Martha artfully dodges Will and Tom, the slave catchers, but struggles to rectify her new reality with her parents' admonition to always tell the truth. She must be brave but not reckless, clever but not dishonest. But being perceived sometimes as white, sometimes as black during the perilous journey has thrown her sense of her own identity into turmoil. Alonso combines fiction and historical fact to weave a suspenseful story of courage, hope and self-discovery in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, while illuminating the bravery of abolitionists who fought against slavery.

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2017 New Releases
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“The complexities of mid-1800s slave laws and racial attitudes are captured within the pages of a riveting adventure story. The fast-paced plot, filled with twists and surprises, will engage readers and spark discussion of these important issues. Alonso breathes life into the sights, sounds, and emotions of travel on the Underground Railroad.”

“Middle graders will love the spunk of Martha, the heroine of this novel. Passionate about the injustices of slavery, she embarks on a journey south to save her kidnapped brother Jake. Rooted in abolitionist history, full of page-turning suspense, mystery, and inner conflict, Martha and the Slave Catchers depicts the disastrous aftermath of the passing of 1850's Fugitive Slave Act.”

“Harriet Alonso’s gripping tale is steeped in period detail, and presents an honest and accurate portrait of life in mid-nineteenth-century Connecticut and of the havoc created by the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Readers will come away with a clearer understanding of the horrors of slavery, and a greater appreciation for the bravery of those who fought against it. Anyone who loves an exciting read and likes learning a bit of history on the way will love this book.”

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Harriet Alonso is the author of five books, including the prize-winning biography, Growing Up Abolitionist: The Story of the Garrison Children, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship. She is a recently retired professor of History at the City College of New York. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Martha and the Slave Catchers is her first novel for younger readers.