Shorty: Narrator of "Now" sections; young Haitian man trapped beneath collapsed hospital following 2010 earthquake. As Shorty lay trapped, he continually remenisces about his life prior to the earthquake. He recalls memories of his sister, of joining a gang, and other memories spent with friends that have all named themselves after famous American rappers. As member of Route 9 gang, Shorty does what is necessary to get by in Site Soley, a violent and depressed Haitian ghetto. Brother to misplaced sister Marguerite, son of "Manman." Shorty has a very negative view of life as all he knows is death and poverty. Not only is he constantly thinking about finding and saving his sister, he remembers other members of his family being killed by the corrupt government. Shorty is a bit of a celebrity in Site Soley as Dread Wilme gave him a pwen, or stone, that will forever keep him safe.
Toussaint l'Ouverture: Narrator of "Then" sections; middle-aged slave turned revolutionary. Leads slave revolt against France. Toussaint is constantly reminding himself that he is not a heartless leader that is only set out to kill the French. He tries to kill as little as possible and even treats former slave owners with some respect by not killing them. Toussaint did not choose to become the leader of a complete slave revolt, it is just kind of put upon him. He is a very smart and realistic leader as he plans to outsmart his enemies by using his knowledge of the land to beat them in battle. He knows other countries will have more men than he will so he is always trying to use whatever resources he has to his advantage. Toussaint basically did the unthinkable by being able to put up a battle against the much bigger and stronger French army. Not only did he put up a fight, he prevailed.
Dread Wilme: Gang leader and default government of section of Site Soley. Gives Shorty a special stone, or pwen, that is to keep him safe.
Manman: Shorty's mother. Manman is a smart woman as she tells Shorty throughout his life that being in a gang is not the right thing to do. She pressures him towards an education. Shorty, however, choose gang life as he is offered protection and has a better chance at finding his sister.
Biggie: Follows Dread Wilme as leader of Route 9. Has a strong connection with Shorty.
Marguerite: Shorty's sister and the other half of Madrassa. She is taken away by rival gangs at a young age and Shorty is constantly thinking about finding her and bringing her home.
Boukman: Organizes slave revolt. Responsible for Toussaint's ascension.
Jean Christophe: Toussaint's right-hand man and most trusted adviser.
Bayou de Libertas: Owner of plantation Toussaint was a slave on.
Tintin: Shorty's friend and member of Route 9.
Stephanie: Biggie's girlfriend and member of Medecins sans Frontieres.