Addy Walker and her mother arrive in Philadelphia to begin life as free people. Everything is new to them in the big city. Addy is most happy about two changes. She has a friend for the first time, Sarah, and she goes to school, where she learns to read and write. In school, Addy sits next to Harriet. Harriet is smart, wealthy, and popular, and Harriet has the life that Addy thought freedom would bring her. Addy hopes to be Harriet's friend and Sarah's friend. But Addy ends up having to make a choice. As a result, she learns what it means to have a real friend.