Freedom Crossing: Summary & Study Guide for the Book

Freedom Crossing is a wonderful historical fiction novel about slavery and the underground railroad in the 1850’s. It features strong young characters and excitement. Use thisstudy guide to help you review the chapters. A question is included after each chapter with answers provided at the end.

Characters and Setting


Laura-15-year-old girl

Bert- Laura’s 13- year-old brother

Joel-17-year- old neighbor

Martin- Twelve-year-old runaway slave

Walt-The rude young slave catcher

Setting– Lewiston, New York (Western New York) in the 1850’s.

Chapters 1-5

Chapter 1

Fifteen-year-old Laura, one of the main characters, has returned to her Lewiston, New York home after living with an aunt and uncle in Virginia for four years. Her southern uncle has influenced her opinion of slavery. Now back at home she learns that her younger brother and father are hiding slaves in her home as part of the Underground Railroad.

Question: With what does Uncle Jim compare a slave?

Chapter 2

Laura lets Joel and Bert know that she has overheard their plot to hide Martin and take him to a meeting place the next night. She offers food to Martin and they search in the house for a safe place to keep him. Laura will not give up her room which has a secret door to a slave hiding place. Laura still has conflicted feelings over this situation.

Question: Why can’t Martin leave the house at this time?

Chapter 3

Laura is shocked to hear that Martin is unlike her impression of slave. He wants to learn things and not have a master tell him what to do. They find a place for Martin to sleep and Laura went back to her room. She searched without success for the trap door that her brother said was there. She glanced out the window and saw someone following Joel as he left their house.

Question: Why didn’t Bert follow Joel to help protect him?

Chapter 4

Martin had already had a bath, built a fire and cooked breakfast. The breakfast was wonderful until there was a knock on the door.

Question: What else has Laura learned about this slave?

Chapter 5

Nosy neighbor Mrs. Fitch was at the door. When she entered she pointed out all the chores that Laura and Bert had neglected while their parents were gone. Laura began cleaning up after the neighbor left.

Question: How was life different now than when Laura lived in Virgina?

Chapter 6-10

Chapter 6

The dogs were still hunting for Martin so everyone inside the house was cautious as they continued to do their chores. Laura found out more interesting things about how slaves were treated and about Martin.

Question: Why didn’t slave owners want their slaves to read or write?

Chapter 7

The sheriff came with a search warrant and a group of men to search the house. Bert was able to get Martin into the trap door before the men entered Laura’s bedroom. Laura was stunned by the hatred in the men’s voices.

Question: Did the men search the house legally?

Chapter 8

The men did not find Martin but saw Martin’s clothes drying by the fire and were suspicious so they decided to keep an eye on the house. One of the men was especially rude to Laura. Martin had to practice hiding behind the trap door quickly in case the men came back. Bert scolded Laura and said she needed to do more chores around the house.

Question: Who was the Moses that Martin talked about? Where was the Promised Land for the slaves?

Chapter 9

Laura receives a package delivered by a young boy. The boy says that Joel cannot come by that night as planned. They find out that Joel’s father has been put in jail for hiding a slave in his house.

Question: What was in the package and why did it make Laura mad?

Chapter 10

Although heading to Joel’s house to talk with him, Bert and Laura were diverted in to town. They saw guards surrounding Joel’s house and were afraid to go there. On the way home, they took a different route trying to look for a way to get Martin to the river later that night so that he could escape to Canada. Walt stopped them.

Question: What clues did they find in Joel’s note?

Freedom Crossing: Chapters 11-14

Chapter 11

Bert and Laura told Walt that they were off for a visit with their cousin. They did stop at Cousin Tessie’s just in case Walt checked. Then they backtracked to Tryon’s Folly, a large abandoned house by the river. This house had several cellars that led to the river. It was the perfect place to bring Martin to escape to Canada.

Question: Why was the house, Tryon’s Folly, abandoned?

Chapter 12

A fugitive slave was captured and the town’s people rushed in to town to try to free him. Laura and Bert both left the carriage tied up so they could go farther on foot to see what was happening.

Question– What did Laura say about lynching?

Chapter 13

As the sheriff was transferring the slave from the church to his house, a man grabbed the slave and rode away on a carriage. It turned out to be Laura and Bert’s carriage. Walt confronted Laura in an angry way asking her what she had to do with the slave’s escape. Bert came to her rescue. Bert was upset with Laura for leaving the carriage unattended. He knew it would draw attention to them and that father would be upset.

Question: Who was driving the carriage with the runaway slave?

Chapter 14

Laura and Bert found Martin still safe at their house. They told him about the incident with the other slave. Bert and Martin planned to leave later that night to travel through the woods to the river. A boat was supposed to meet Martin there to take him to Canada. They passed the time reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was a book about slavery. Suddenly there was a knock at the front door.

Question: Why did Laura decide to listen to the book?

Chapters 15-17

Chapter 15

The sheriff and others arrived to arrest Bert. They claimed that he must be involved in helping the captured slave since his carriage was the getaway vehicle. They took him to jail leaving Martin and Laura alone. The two decided that they still needed to go through with the plan to take Martin to the river. Laura dressed up in her brother’s old clothes and they left when it was very dark. They needed to travel over a mile through the woods to the river without being caught.

Question: Why couldn’t they wait until Pa got home?

Chapter 16

Laura and Martin traveled in the dark through the woods with several scares along the way. They finally reached Tryon’s Folly by the river. Dashing down into the cellar they heard footsteps following them.

Question: Why did the farmer go to get his gun?

Chapter 17

The footsteps belonged to Joel! He was there to help them. He had another slave with him. The two runaways got into a boat and crossed the river to Canada.

Question: How did Laura feel now about helping to free the slaves?

Answers to Chapter Questions

1. Uncle Jim said a slave was like property just like a cow or horse.

2. The boat won’t be there for another night to take him to Canada.

3. It would make others think that he (Bert) was helping slaves just like Joel was doing.

4. She learned that Martin could read and write.

5. In Virginia, Laura did not have to do chores. The slaves did them.

6. If slaves could read and write, it would give them too much power.

7. Yes, they had a warrant.

8. Moses was the nickname of Harriet Tubman. The Promised Land for the slaves was Canada.

9. The package contained a book called Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Laura did not want to read it.

10. Joel gave them a clue to go to Tryon’s Folly and the word rabbit referred to a slave.

11. The owner’s wife would not live there.

12. Lynching was wrong –no matter whom the victim was.

13. The bearded man who had been sitting in the tailor’s shop was driving the carriage.

14. She did not want to be alone in the dark part of the house.

15. The boat was coming for Martin before Pa would be home.

16. The farmer’s dog was barking.

17. After meeting Martin and learning more about the lives of slaves, Laura vowed to help them with the Underground Railroad. She knew that much of what she learned in Virginia was a lie.

Hopefully this Freedom Crossing book study guide has helped you to review this amazing historical fiction novel.