To fourteen-year-old Jesse Turner, being “free” in Alabama in 1898 doesn’t seem much better than slavery. The Turners’ forty-acre farm—given to them by the government following the Civil War—is exhausted from growing cotton, they face overwhelming debt, and trouble from prejudiced neighbors makes life difficult and frightening. It seems the only solution is to sell the land and begin sharecropping. But they find new hope in the teachings of George Washington Carver, a Christian agriculturist who travels the South helping fellow blacks with new farming techniques. Inspired by Carver’s advice to “hang on to the land at all costs,” Jesse takes a part-time job, and he and his father plant a promising crop of soybeans.
But as the Turners race to meet the deadline for repaying their debts, they run into a host of new problems. And when the levee suspiciously bursts one night and floods their land, can Jesse find a way to save the family farm?