"The summer before D Foster's real mama came and took her away, Tupac wasn't dead yet. From this first line in her quiet, powerful novel, Woodson cycles backward through the events that lead to dual tragedies: a friend's departure and a hero's death. In a close-knit African American neighborhood in Queens, New York, the unnamed narrator lives across fromÂ her best friend, Neeka. Then D Foster wanders onto the block, and the three 11-year-old girls quickly become inseparable.
Emma has taken care of the Butler children since Sarah and Frances's mother, Fanny, left. Emma wants to raise the girls to have good hearts, as a rift over slavery has ripped the Butler household apart. Now, to pay off debts, Pierce Butler wants to cash in his slave "assets", possibly including Emma.