“My name is Will Spencer. I come from a little town called Atwater, Ohio, and I bought this wagon to haul goods. But lately, I’ve been hauling more people than goods.” Excerpted from Katherine Ayres’ Stealing South: A Story of the Underground Railroad
Will’s family has always helped runaway slaves, but Will wants to leave Atwater and start a life of his own. When a runaway slave asks Will to help steal his older brother out of the South, Will amends his plan and begins an adventure that will take him into the heart of slavery’s evil. Along the way, Will has to sort through the difficult dilemma facing him—the discovery that people are not always what they seem and that it’s not always easy to tell right from wrong. If the law says that stealing slaves is just as bad as robbing a man’s house, does that make Will a common thief? Or is he a young man doing what’s right?
Katherine Ayres brings the tragedy of real life home to the young people of America—in the case of the novel cited above, nineteenth-century slavery. Her novels revolve around the moral and ethical dilemmas experienced by boys and girls living along the Underground Railroad, and in doing so, she highlights the fact that the decisions we make in life are never easy ones.