Sharla Cody is only five, but has already lived a troubled life — only to find herself dumped on an elderly neighbor’s doorstep when her mother takes off for the summer. Although Sharla is not the angelic child Addy Shadd had pictured when she agreed to look after her, the two soon forge a deep bond. To Addy’s surprise, Sharla’s presence brings back memories of her own childhood in Rusholme, a town settled by fugitive slaves in the mid-1800s. She reminisces about her family, her first love, and the painful experience that drove her away from home. Brilliantly structured — and achingly lyrical, this is a story about the redeeming power of love and memory, and about two unlikely people who transform each other’s lives forever.