Clotee is a slave girl who has a deadly secret: she can read and write. She learned while fanning her master’s children while the Misses schooled them each day, and she practices in her diary which she must hide from the other slaves and their master’s family. In the meantime, she must put up with, and writes about, all of the politics among her fellow slaves and the master’s family. Eventually, the master’s children are given a new tutor who discovers Clotee’s secret. But because the man is an abolitionist, his goal is to help however he can. Eventually Clotee goes on to assist with the underground railroad, helping other slaves escape the harsh conditions of slavery and free themselves to reunite with their families and start life anew.