If you were a freed slave, would you return to the South? What if you were asked to become a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War? In a debut novel based on the story of a real woman, Lois Leveen explores those questions, giving us a fresh perspective on the War Between the States.
Mama was always so busy. Busy tending to Old Master Van Lew and Mistress Van Lew, Young Master John, Miss Bet. But she was never too busy to riddle me. She said it was the first kind of learning she could give me, and the most important, too. Be alert, Mama meant. See the world around you. Find what you seek, because it's already there. . . .—The Secrets of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen (HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2012; quote is from an advanced reader's copy)
Mama, your little girl is all grown up, and still playing our best game. I am a spy. (pp. 1-2)