A debut historical novel about the friendship that grows between two young indentured servants--one of them Irish--as they struggle to overcome their tyrannical master and win their freedom in nineteenth-century New England.
It's 1839. Nine-year-old Ethan doesn't want to work for Mr. Lyman, the wealthy shopkeeper in their small Massachusetts town. But Ethan has no choice—it's the only way to pay off his family’s debt to the man. Ethan tries to befriend the Lymans’ other indentured servant, but Daniel, as everyone says, is a difficult boy. Sixteen years old, Irish, and moody, Daniel brushes off Ethan as if he were a pesky gnat. Ethan resolves to ignore the brusque older boy, but is then shocked to see how cruelly Mr. Lyman treats Daniel. Soon, Ethan, too, is suffering Mr. Lyman’s blows, and the two boys have only each other, as no one—not Ethan’s well-meaning but timid father; not Silas, Mr. Lyman’s aloof oldest son; not Lizzie, the Lymans' sympathetic dairymaid—comes to their aid.
As Ethan and Daniel forge a tentative friendship, Daniel teaches Ethan how to ride a horse and even how to speak Gaelic. But when Daniel stands up to the Lymans to protect Ethan, the boys set off a chain of events that may land Daniel in prison. Will Ethan be able to save his friend? And will others finally have the courage to do what's right for this not-so-difficult boy?