Clotee has lived all twelve years of her life as a slave on the Belmont Plantation in Virginia. Now it's 1859, just before the start of the Civil War. Although she has known no life other than that of a slave, she has secretly learned how to read and write, and that ability gives her a glimpse of the world out there. To practice, she keeps a secret diary that she hides in a hollowed-out tree. An orphan most of her life, Clotee has managed to make the best of her circumstances, and writing is one of the few things that brings her any joy. When a tutor comes to the plantation to teach the master's young son, Clotee figures that he'll just be another predjudiced southerner. But he's an abolitionist that further expands Clotee's horizons, and he may be able to give her the one thing she longs for: freedom. I highly reccomend this beautifully written account of one year in the life of a fictional slave girl who lived in circumstances typical of the time. The fact that it is told through Clotee's diary allows the reader to really get inside her head and know her innermost thoughts, hopes, and dreams.