PW #310: Young Adult Speculative Historical Fiction: SASSAFRAS ROAD

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Jenni L. Walsh
Mentee Name: Sarah Van Goethem
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Speculative Historical Fiction
Word Count: 75,000


In 1924, four-year-old Ada Mae Baker vanishes from Sassafras Road and into the year 2000. Twelve years later, at sixteen, she stumbles upon Sassafras Road, where she falls through time to 1936 and into her stolen life, unlocking memories and secrets long forgotten.


Sassafras Road isn’t on the map. And yet it stretches before me, a curving gravel snake, peppered with flooded potholes. Marking its existence, a faded, wood road sign juts from the weeds at a crooked angle, the handwritten letters weak and shaky, as if unsure of themselves.

Dana’s unsure too. My best friend sighs, pulls her cell phone through the car’s open window, and rubs droplets off the screen with her sleeve. “No reception. You sure this road isn’t on the map?”

“Yep.” At least not on the map my ever-practical father shoved into my bag before Dana and I left for our tour of Lambert College—and that map is brand new, 2012 stamped right on it.

Dana’s eyes narrow. “Did you actually check?”

The windshield wipers shriek against the glass.

She knows me too well, that I’m in no hurry to get home. All that awaits me there are inquisitive parents, ready to pounce.

Pick a school, Ada Mae. Pick a future. Pick something, anything.

But I can’t. Not yet. Not without knowing my past. I squint into the fog. Freshly grown spring weeds poke out of the ditch banks, tangled and flattened by the storm winds. The storm that forced us off the highway and into the backcountry, where the trees soar high in the sky, whispering secrets of bygone days.

I trace my finger over the foggy passenger window, copying the road sign’s letters. Sassafras. A road worth marking, but not on a map. What mysteries could be waiting, hidden in the fog?

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