It is 1851. Miles is a house slave on the Tilery Plantation, but when he is caught looking at an open book, he is sent to the breaking ground where he learns what it really means to be a slave. 12-year-old Miles is allowed to work in the great house on the Tillery Plantation, where he is training to be a house servant, rather than labor in the fields. But after he is caught looking at an open book while dusting the library, Miles is banished from the mansion and sent to the breaking ground. There, he learns what it truly means to feel like a slave. But it is also at the breaking ground that he meets Elijah, an older slave who teaches Miles to read and tells him of the land of freedom up north. Armed with his new knowledge, Miles tells himself that he does not feel like a slave and he no longer believes working in the great house is a privlege.
When twelve-year-old house slave Miles is caught with an open book, he is sent to the "breaking ground" as punishment.