Results of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards in the year 2006.
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 in morals has ripped the Butler household apart: Sarah and their mother oppose the inhumanity of slavery, while Frances and their father, Pierce, believe in the Southern lifestyle and treatment of blacks.
Now, to pay off mounting gambling debts, Pierce decides to cash in his "assets." He hosts the biggest slave auction in American history, at the price of his humanity. During these two days, the skies weep on the proceedings below, for although Butler promises Emma's parents not to sell her: money, desperation, and greed enable him to justify his any misdeed. Through flashbacks and flash-forwards, and shifting first-person points of view, readers will travel with Emma and others through time and place, and come to understand that every decision has its consequences, and final judgment is passed down not by man, but by his maker.