Born in West Africa in the mid-18th century, Maryam Prescilla Grace survives capture, enslavement, the Atlantic crossing, and a brief stint as a pirate's ward, acting as both a spy and a translator. Maryam learns midwifery from a Caribbean-born woman. Those skills allow her to sometimes transcend the racial and class barriers of her enslavement, as she tries to balance the lives and health of her own people with the cruel economic mandates of the slave holders. Throughout her life, Maryam gains and loses her homeland, her family, her culture, her husband, her lovers, and her children. Yet as the decades pass, this tenacious woman never loses her sense of self.