It is 1492, and Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain have signed the Edict of Expulsion, giving all Jews three months to leave the country. Joseph Belifonte, a twelve-year-old boy, escapes to Lisbon, Portugal, with his parents and younger sister, Gracia. However, after eight months there, Joseph and Gracia, along with hundreds of other Jewish children, are kidnapped. They are put on a ship and taken to the island of São Tomé, off the coast of West Africa. Now slaves, they are forcibly baptized and made to work on a sugar plantation. Joseph holds to the hope that one day he will be free.