It is the 1830s, and Fima and her mother are rice traders on the West Coast of Africa in the Sherbro River area: a network of mouths of rivers, mangrove mudflats and shifting sandbars where traders can load captives in secret onto vessels whose captains take them across the Atlantic for sale as slaves on auction blocks. Sherbro’s rich agricultural hinterland can produce enough rice to maintain the thousands of slaves kept captive in barracoons during the weeks and months they are waiting to be loaded onto the slave vessels. It also produces enough rice to provision the slave vessels for their transatlantic crossings. Fima dreams of one day owning her own rice business in Sherbro, on her own terms. But when a family crisis occurs and her mother suddenly departs on foot for upcountry, she leaves Fima on her own sooner than she had expected. She also leaves her with an important family heirloom to guard. Fima is excited, and confident she will succeed. Little does she know, however, that people are not always what they appear . . . .
Reviewer’s Choice, Midwest Book Review: "The Heritage Keeper is an historical novel based on the true experience of a girl growing up on the West African coast in the 1830s in what is now called Sierra Leone. An extraordinary and highly recommended novel, The Heritage Keeper is an especially recommended addition to personal, middle grade school and community library collections for young readers." Small Press Bookwatch, April 2016