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Chains

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As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual. Reading Level: Age 10 and Up


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As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual. Reading Level: Age 10 and Up

30 review for Chains

  1. 5 out of 5

    karen

    oh, i like l.h.a. much better when she is writing historical fiction than when she is writing her girls-with-problems books. not that this girl doesn't have problems - she is a slave which trumps anorexia as far as problems go**, but overall isabel is a more winsome character than les autres, one that you actually would like to see successful at the end of it all. however, since this is the FIRST book of some larger undertaking (which they do NOT tell you on the cover, thanks) no one knows when " oh, i like l.h.a. much better when she is writing historical fiction than when she is writing her girls-with-problems books. not that this girl doesn't have problems - she is a slave which trumps anorexia as far as problems go**, but overall isabel is a more winsome character than les autres, one that you actually would like to see successful at the end of it all. however, since this is the FIRST book of some larger undertaking (which they do NOT tell you on the cover, thanks) no one knows when "the end of it all" is. this book would be appropriate for younger readers, i think - it seems less focused on the atrocities of slavery and more reduced to the experiences of one plucky girl having a little adventure with espionage and some incidental revolution going on all around her. the situation seems a little whitewashed, if you will excuse the word-choice, but it does seem pretty tidy and not as emotionally overwrought as the teen fiction i have been reading so far for this class. (yeah, genius just looked at the back of the book to find it says "ages 10 and up", so let's pretend i just had an original idea and move along.) it is very much like one day in the life of ivan denisovich in this way - you know there are terrible things happening to other people in this situation, but overall, considering the circumstances, ivan had a pretty good day - little extra food, little light labor - not as bad as it could have been. still shitty - you are still imprisoned and cold, you are still a slave to an awful woman, but at least there were some who showed kindnesses. i got nothing else, except to note that the main character started out her enslavement in rhode island and then moved on to new york, just like someone else we all know and love. or know, at least... **anorexia is totally a problem, i am just talking scale here. it is then way people in third-world situations view anorexia as a "luxury disease" because at least you have food to deny yourself. in this case, slaves are denied personhood, which must have a more profound psychological toll. it is an outside force saying "you are nothing", rather than an internal struggle. am i making it worse?? i might be. i mean no disrespect.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    My discovery of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains came at the best possible time. I had recently read and reviewed Steve Sheinkin’s, King George, What Was His Problem?, a book that looks at the stories behind the American Revolution that they don’t teach you in school. I enjoyed the title thoroughly, but one point had me baffled. Why on earth did American slaves fight or aid the Revolution when Britain was anti-slavery? It just didn’t make any sense. It reminded me of that black character on the k My discovery of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains came at the best possible time. I had recently read and reviewed Steve Sheinkin’s, King George, What Was His Problem?, a book that looks at the stories behind the American Revolution that they don’t teach you in school. I enjoyed the title thoroughly, but one point had me baffled. Why on earth did American slaves fight or aid the Revolution when Britain was anti-slavery? It just didn’t make any sense. It reminded me of that black character on the kids’ show Liberty’s Kids and my husband asking, “So... is he insane?” And up until now no book written for kids, fiction or informational, has ever really addressed this question to my satisfaction. Enter Laurie Halse Anderson. As she says of the book, “A decade ago, while researching Fever 1793, I came across facts that shocked me; that Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, that twenty percent of New York City in 1776 was held in bondage, and that the Revolution was not fought for the freedom of all Americans.” The result of this shock is Chains, a complex but kid-friendly look at the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a Loyalist’s slave. As Anderson says in her Author’s Note at the end, “you really can’t look at this through good guy/bad guy glasses.” So it is that you end up with a book that is nuanced, historically accurate within an inch of its life, and infinitely readable. They were supposed to be free. That was the promise that old Miss Mary Finch made to Isabel and her little sister Ruth before she died. She even put it in writing, though the man who wrote it up for her departed before her death, leaving no proof. Now the sisters have been sold to the Lockton household and things look bad. The Locktons are Loyalists living in New York City, and soon Isabel finds that the island itself makes for an ideal prison from which escape is near impossible. With the Revolutionary War beginning and England taking over the city, Isabel is torn between aiding the Colonists or the Loyalists. Both sides fail to take slaves into account, using them as tools rather than people. To find her own way Isabel must use her head and determine whom it is that she can trust and how to use what little power she has. Each chapter begins with a quote from a real person or advertisement during this time period. An Author’s Note at the end provides additional details, source notes for further reading, and clarifications on tricky points. I wanted to start off here with something along the lines of “Well, of course the writing is good,” but maybe that’s not the given I think it is. Maybe you haven’t read a Laurie Halse Anderson book before. Or maybe you did but it was a long time ago and somehow you’ve managed to conflate her in your mind with fellow revolutionary author M.T. Anderson. Maybe I shouldn’t go about assuming that you are familiar then with her wordplay and wit then. Take as one such example a moment when Isabel discovers that her mistress has done the unthinkable. Anderson writes, “She did not look into my eyes, did not see the lion inside. She did not see the me of me, the Isabel. I saw her. I saw all the way down to her withered soul.” That’s just a taste, but you get the picture. Anderson accomplishes the unenviable task of having to write someone in a helpless position who can somehow remain strong in spite of the odds. On top of that she fills her tale with likeable and unlikeable characters together. Yet every person here, no matter how briefly they flit across the page, has a story. My husband is fond of saying of people that “they only want what they want.” In other words, everyone has their own number one prerogative in mind. They’re all looking out for number one. What makes Isabel such a stunning protagonist and hero is that in spite of the odds and her trials, she is able to look out for other people even in the midst of her own wants and needs. Anderson also knows how to write a good villain. Mrs. Lockton is systematic in her abuse, and perfectly created as well. A two-dimensional villain is something you see in children’s books every day, but Anderson is clever enough to give Madam a little more depth than that. She is herself abused by her husband, and one chapter begins with an unsigned Colonial-Era letter that reads, “Among all the species and degrees of slavery that have excited the attention of mankind . . . there is perhaps none more pitiable than that of the ill-sooted Wife.” It is not an excuse for what she does to the people she owns, but at least you understand her nastiness a little better. Of course, there are some portions in this book where not a lot happens and you find yourself waiting for the next event to take place. For much of the story Isabel has to remain a kind of static character. When she does take matters into her own hands while in the thrall of anger, it can lead to problems. So for a while she has to bide her time and you, the reader, are biding right alongside her. This accounts for some of the sections in the center of the novel where we have to get a little overheard exposition to know what’s going on in the state and the country. Fortunately the stakes are hoisted up beautifully after that and the storyline proceeds at a bracing clip. That each chapter begins with a real-life quote makes for a beautiful dichotomy. On the one hand you have the Continental Congress saying, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves,” and on the other you have Isabel nearly dying on us all thanks to actual slavery. These quotes become their own counter-narrative. Fiction is often limited by the fact that if you’re writing in the first-person you’re only really getting one point of view. Unless a character eavesdrops on others (or, in the case of this book, is almost invisible to them) they can’t get alternative voices. So when you enter in quotes from the day from the Revolutionaries, you remember all the other stories being told during this time in history. Without them you wouldn’t be able to place Isabel’s dilemma, and the dilemma of all the New York slaves of this time period, in history. Thus does Anderson give everyone a voice without sacrificing that of her main character. I’ve heard the faint but unmistakable cry to “Replace schools reading Johnny Tremain with Chains!” It’s quiet at the moment, but I expect the movement to gather momentum any day now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fond of Johnny Tremain too (didn’t Bart Simpson want to rename it “Johnny Deformed”?), but I don’t know that its historical accuracy and kid-friendly interest level can really compete with Anderson’s book. Chains disproves the notion that a children’s book written for the middle reader set can’t have complexity and interesting characters. Best of all, it’s a great read. Sucks you in and doesn’t spit you out until the very end. I look forward to the sequel (as there is bound to be one) and hope that this book gets into the hands of teachers everywhere as soon as possible. If you read only one piece of historical fiction from 2008, read this. Ages 10 and up

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    That the question was not whether, by a declaration of independence, we should make ourselves what we are not; but whether we should declare a fact which already exists. . . --Thomas Jefferson The author of Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, is “descended from many soldiers who fought in the American Revolution.” So am I. I am, literally, a Daughter of the American Revolution. Yet. . . I know so little about it. I have the basic facts and dates down, but it's the Civil War that has always been “my war.” That the question was not whether, by a declaration of independence, we should make ourselves what we are not; but whether we should declare a fact which already exists. . . --Thomas Jefferson The author of Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, is “descended from many soldiers who fought in the American Revolution.” So am I. I am, literally, a Daughter of the American Revolution. Yet. . . I know so little about it. I have the basic facts and dates down, but it's the Civil War that has always been “my war.” I've not only been nutty for Abraham Lincoln my entire life, I have always been cheered on by any story from that War that highlights the dissolution of slavery. My people have always been abolitionists, and I carry the fervor of freedom for all enslaved people right on the surface of my heart. So, when I learned that my daughter's 5th grade class was undertaking this middle-grades historical fiction, I became interested. This story combines one slave's story within the bigger battle between the Patriots and the Loyalists, starting just a month before the new Americans officially declare their Independence. Ms. Anderson does quite a brilliant job here of giving readers the opportunity to connect with Isabel, the young slave and main protagonist, to personalize a character in chains with a nation in chains. Also, the author creates a clever juxtaposition that provides much critical thinking. . . why would a slave care to take a side in the emancipation of a people that does not include her own personal freedom? This read inspired many meaningful conversations between my daughter and me and we will definitely be continuing Isabel's journey with her, in what has now become a trilogy. Neither of us can resist her pursuit of freedom. Everything that stands between you and freedom is the river Jordan.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Janni

    Halfway through: Wow, this is a painful book (in all the best ways). I'm wondering whether the story is going to manage to pull off some hope by the end, and if so, how it's going to do so without cheating. So far, a powerful book, and one that's hard to put down. After finishing: A disconcerting look at New York City during the Revolutionary War from the point of view of Isabel, a black girl living there, hearing talk of freedom, and being reminded over and over again by both sides that the talk Halfway through: Wow, this is a painful book (in all the best ways). I'm wondering whether the story is going to manage to pull off some hope by the end, and if so, how it's going to do so without cheating. So far, a powerful book, and one that's hard to put down. After finishing: A disconcerting look at New York City during the Revolutionary War from the point of view of Isabel, a black girl living there, hearing talk of freedom, and being reminded over and over again by both sides that the talk isn't about freedom for her. I loved this book the vivid prose that made me feel like I really was in New York in 1776. And I was struck by--not the people who were cruel to Isabel (though the cruelty was pretty horrible)--but by the many people who were sympathetic to Isabel but either wouldn't or believed they couldn't do anything about it. Because much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I fear that's where most of us would be, maybe even are: wincing at the injustice we see, giving a smile and a few sympathetic words, coming home and blogging about it to our friends (who assure us it wasn't our fault and there was nothing we could really do), and then pushing the uneasiness into the back of our minds and going on with our lives. An uncomfortable thought, that, as it should be.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Rey

    [3.5 Stars]

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Shirts

    It's taken me forever to getting around to writing a review of this book -- I read it about six weeks ago. I suppose this is because it's getting near-universal acclaim, while I found it rather ho-hum. Perhaps reading all the positive reviews of this book got my expectations up too high. My main complaint is that the protagonist, Isabel, doesn't come off as a believable 18th-century character to me. It's the same problem I had with Catherine Called Birdy -- a girl in that time and place may h It's taken me forever to getting around to writing a review of this book -- I read it about six weeks ago. I suppose this is because it's getting near-universal acclaim, while I found it rather ho-hum. Perhaps reading all the positive reviews of this book got my expectations up too high. My main complaint is that the protagonist, Isabel, doesn't come off as a believable 18th-century character to me. It's the same problem I had with Catherine Called Birdy -- a girl in that time and place may have had those thoughts, but would she have said them? To people who have power over her? It also seems odd that Isabel can read so well -- she secretly pours through Robinson Crusoe and later stumbles through "Common Sense," which would, I think, require a lot of practice in the act of reading. How likely is it that a slave girl raised in rural Rhode Island in the 1770s would have been given such an opportunit? But Anderson gives us little information regarding Isabel's life before the Locktons, so I can only guess that her previous owner spent an unusual amount of time educating her, which seems unlikely, especially since we are told that her former owner spent her last years in dottering senility. This is just one example of how strange a character Isabel seemed to me -- more like a 21st century girl in costume than a believable person from her time and place. To me, being able to correctly portray not just the events and details of a historical period, but its attitudes and ways of thinking is the most important aspect of historical fiction (and probably the most difficult to portray). It's often the gold standard by which I judge historical fiction. Want examples of this, well done? Check out Katherine Paterson's Lyddie (in which the protagonist is forced to do backbreaking work under horrible conditions, and when her superiors treat her poorly, her reaction is to work all the harder to prove herself to them) or Joan M. Blos' A Gathering of Days (in which the protagonist concludes that it was unwise to give a homemade quilt to a starving runaway slave). There, I said it. Now let me just get ready to duck the rotten tomatoes . . .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Anze

    "If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? And if a girl was to seek her freedom, how could she do such a foolheaded thing?" Isabel and her little sister Ruth are promised their freedom upon the death of their owner, Mrs. Finch. Its even drawn up on paper by a lawyer but when the heir of Mrs. Finch decides to sell the girls instead without so much as trying to consider their claim, their lives take a dramatic turn. Sold to the Locktons, a crown-loyal couple, the girls are moved "If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? And if a girl was to seek her freedom, how could she do such a foolheaded thing?" Isabel and her little sister Ruth are promised their freedom upon the death of their owner, Mrs. Finch. Its even drawn up on paper by a lawyer but when the heir of Mrs. Finch decides to sell the girls instead without so much as trying to consider their claim, their lives take a dramatic turn. Sold to the Locktons, a crown-loyal couple, the girls are moved to New York. As Ruth has some issues, its Isabel that does most of the heavy work. When she meets Curzon, the slave boy of a patriot household, he encourages her to spy on her masters. At first, Isabel is reluctant but when Madam Lockton does the inconceivable to Ruth, she decides to act. Isabel wants the freedom she was promised and she will not stop until she gets it. Its been a while since I read a Laurie Halse Anderson book. I read 'Speak' a few years back so her writting style was somewhat familiar to me. In 'Chains', Anderson tells the story of thirteen-year-old Isabel. Having been born into slavery, she and her sister fortunately had an owner that decided to free them upon her death. The nephew, though, had other ideas. Instead of freedom, they were sold to a heartless couple with strong loyalists ties. The American Revolution has just begun. Curzon suspects that Lockton has vital information that can help the patriots defeat the loyalists. Isabel just wants to take care of Ruth but then something happens that makes Isabel change her mind. Heartbreaking and horrifying, this resounding narrative was eye-opening. Isabel has no allegiance, she is willing to aid whomever will grant freedom. As the fighting progresses so does Isabel's determination. Aimed at a younger audience, the descriptions of daily life for Isabel were not overly graphic but still hard to swallow. While slavery and the fight for freedom are the main theme of the novel, its Isabel's resileance that stands out. Will be seeking the next in the series for sure. The historical background also plays a strong role in the narrative. Most books I have read about slavery are set in the South. New York is the primary setting and before the revolution it was a stronghold for the British, and while its not as known (or remarked about) it too was a colony with slaves. By 1776, one out of five people was in bondage. It raises the question of how could a nation be fighting a war for freedom and liberty when they held slaves at home. Its a fine line between irony and hypocrisy. The loyalists sided with the crown while the patriots with freedom. Slaves were pawns. Promised freedom by the British, thousands of slaves fled to the loyalist side but most did menial jobs. The motivation of the British in offering freedom for the slaves were twofold: strengthen their army and weaken the American economy but it was not done from a moral place. The "good vs bad" story here is quite complex as neither faction is blameless. This was an angle of the American Revolution I had not really thought about and I am glad Anderson shone a spotlight on it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tamora Pierce

    Laurie Halse Anderson always writes well. My heart was in my mouth all the way. Sal is wonderful and feisty, trying to find a way out of a situation that appears to have no way out. My only objection is that there's a sequel and I don't have it! Laurie Halse Anderson always writes well. My heart was in my mouth all the way. Sal is wonderful and feisty, trying to find a way out of a situation that appears to have no way out. My only objection is that there's a sequel and I don't have it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance

    What a TREASURE! What a JEWEL of a novel! Amazingly engrossing and movingly written. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you are a parent, an educator, a middle grade student or enjoy historical fiction reads, this is one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s the first of a trilogy, and the intended audience is age 10 and up. I have not read the next two novels in the series yet. 1776, the year of our Independence, Isabel and her young sister Ruth are sold as slaves to a couple from What a TREASURE! What a JEWEL of a novel! Amazingly engrossing and movingly written. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you are a parent, an educator, a middle grade student or enjoy historical fiction reads, this is one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s the first of a trilogy, and the intended audience is age 10 and up. I have not read the next two novels in the series yet. 1776, the year of our Independence, Isabel and her young sister Ruth are sold as slaves to a couple from NY after the death of their former owner. Taken from their safe surroundings of a good master’s house, Isabel bravely mothers and protects her little sister and vows to keep her out of harm’s way. New York City and its harbor are very busy. This is the time when citizens are still divided in either their loyalty to the King of England or the patriotism of a free nation. Isabel notices a few strange things going on at and around the Lockton household. Mrs. Lockton, or 'Madam', does not like the girls and Mr. Lockton keeps holding secret meetings. Are they spies? Are they Tories? Isabel is a brave and strong girl. Thankfully she isn’t all alone but secretly makes friends with Curzon, a servant boy at another house and has Mr. Lockton’s sister, Lady Seymour, who despite not freeing them, is looking out for them. The girls endure harsh work conditions and hateful treatments that are getting worse and worse. "You can't storm around here like a banshee. Madam will beat you bloody. Me too", she said. When I woke, the barrel of a gun was stuck up underneath my chin. My toes dragged in the dirt. They tried to pull my arms from my body.... (p141) The man pushed the hot metal against my cheek. It hissed and bubbled. Smoke curled under my nose. (p148) But Isabel is a clever and courageous girl. She works hard and becomes an important pawn in 'the cause'. What will she do with all the wisdom and information she gains? Can she make changes for the betterment of their lives? Besides the narrative, I enjoyed all the rich details presented of the markets and the people, the atmospheric portrait of a divided city, the meeting place at the well where slaves and servants stood in line for water and fellowship, the parades, the Continental and British Armies, the boarding houses, the Hessians, the foods and smells, as well as the hardships, the Tories, the secrets, the prison…..all masterfully crafted to create an immersive story and plot with very well researched details. Nothing feels out of place and you are right there in the streets of NY in the hustle and bustle. This one will definitely stay with me. I read this as a read-aloud and will have fond memories of it. My audience of 13 year olds was captivated too with this living history read. Listed are my status updates while reading, as you can see, I really enjoyed it. “This book will be a powerful vehicle for young readers to understand and emphasize with a person of color, imported and sold a slave around the time of the Revolution. A provocative and inspiring read... I can tell already!” “This would make for an amazing kids movie. It has Tories, loyalists and spies....along with the scenery that transports you right into the busy hustle and bustle of 1776 New York. Wonderfully written!” “Love this book. Isabel is such a strong and brave girl.” “I love, love, love this book. Such a great story. Tories, spies, secret plots....this book needs to be passed on and read by all kids. Perfect mixture of history and fiction." "This is such as atmospheric read for middle grade students. Experience life at the time of the Declaration of Independence through this rich novel with some beautiful characters. I think it a must read. No boring textbook here to transport you into this time period." Must I say more?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ninoshkka

    PSA: BLACK PAIN IS NOT TO BE USED FOR YOUR CAPITAL WHITE GAIN, AND IF YOU'RE GONNA TRY IT AT LEAST DO THAT SHIT RIGHT!! I really hope you all read this review because I have been seeing many people give this book an either four or five stars. My main issue with this book as a black woman, is how uneasy I felt knowing that this book was written with a white gaze. No, I am not trying to say that people of other races shouldn't write points of views from people of color characters. What I am saying i PSA: BLACK PAIN IS NOT TO BE USED FOR YOUR CAPITAL WHITE GAIN, AND IF YOU'RE GONNA TRY IT AT LEAST DO THAT SHIT RIGHT!! I really hope you all read this review because I have been seeing many people give this book an either four or five stars. My main issue with this book as a black woman, is how uneasy I felt knowing that this book was written with a white gaze. No, I am not trying to say that people of other races shouldn't write points of views from people of color characters. What I am saying is that when they do, there will always be a certain stigma put around said black characters, or even a stereotype that clouds over a character's being. I will give Laurie Halse Anderson the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe she wasn't aware of it while it was there. yet these stereotypes left me extremely uneasy and I even begun to feel a certain hatred for the author while I was reading. Isabel, the main character was in my opinion too independent. One of the reasons why in historical fiction when the topic is slavery it flops is because the historical accuracy just rubs people of colors, especially black people the wrong way. Isabel in all honesty, was way too independent. It always bother me when authors try to subtly pass over the reality of slavery. Isabel was born and raised as a slave, even if she was a rebel she would've known how to speak to her master, because of the fear of being lynched, beatings or watching a friend die as punishment of talking back. I read a review that even tried comparing reading this book to the same experience as reading The Little House on the Prairie or Little Women????? LIKE NO. IT'S NOT THE SAME. Another review even tried giving the topic of anorexia in this book a whole paragraph to explain it in this novel! I in all honesty found all these things extremely offensive, and washing over the real issues that this book (although poorly) tried to represent. Lets talk about the master in this book. NOW that was the smack in the face for me. Mrs.Lockton the slave master, was in my eyes not portrayed as a villain, and this was really when the white washing began. In a way the author wanted the readers to almost sympathize the woman no matter how poorly she treated Isabel, I honestly didn't give a fuck that Anderson tried portraying America as this great colonization, and shade the British. What I did have an issue with, was her white washing the entire novel as if people of color should've done better when they were being fucking chained and beaten and raped. This book is my opinion was terrible, and white guilt is so fucking real, that authors can't even research they shit before they try to write from a black person's perspective no matter how young. ALL I AM SAYING, IS IF YOU ARE A BLACK PERSON AND YOU'RE WOKE AF, THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR YOU!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This book has sat on my shelf for literally a decade. I've never had the urge to pick it up but always had this nagging feeling that I should read it someday. Now I'm reading it and I'm just... not engaged. Am I a terrible person? Personally I just don't think I'm a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing. I couldn't get through Speak either and Wintergirls was a two-star read for me. Oh well. I'm glad it's finally off my to-read shelf. This book has sat on my shelf for literally a decade. I've never had the urge to pick it up but always had this nagging feeling that I should read it someday. Now I'm reading it and I'm just... not engaged. Am I a terrible person? Personally I just don't think I'm a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing. I couldn't get through Speak either and Wintergirls was a two-star read for me. Oh well. I'm glad it's finally off my to-read shelf.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Just a thoroughly enjoyable read. Young adults are the target audience, but the only way you can tell is that there is perhaps a narrower focus than you might find in an adult book. Thirteen-year-old Isabel tells her story from her limited situation, but brings in important events taking place in the larger arena at the start of our Revolutionary War. This is a very well-told, well-researched story that just flows so nicely. There's a lot of skillful descriptive writing that made me put down the Just a thoroughly enjoyable read. Young adults are the target audience, but the only way you can tell is that there is perhaps a narrower focus than you might find in an adult book. Thirteen-year-old Isabel tells her story from her limited situation, but brings in important events taking place in the larger arena at the start of our Revolutionary War. This is a very well-told, well-researched story that just flows so nicely. There's a lot of skillful descriptive writing that made me put down the book and get a picture of the scene in my mind. And hey, I even learned some more things I didn't know about the American Revolution. I really appreciated the fact that the author didn't go for the cheap emotional hook. You can feel the sadness and loss and betrayal, but she doesn't overdo it. Isabel is a strong, intelligent, resourceful girl who doesn't let the despair keep her down.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Caveat: I don't like historical fiction, generally. Have I said that before? Anyway this book is a perfect example of why. I felt like the story was structured around the research, rather than rising organically from something. I felt like there were cool historical facts she wanted to impart, and she structured the story around the facts. The chapter headings, which are primary source quotes from history, only exaggerated this fact. And even with short chapters, which I usually love, it took me Caveat: I don't like historical fiction, generally. Have I said that before? Anyway this book is a perfect example of why. I felt like the story was structured around the research, rather than rising organically from something. I felt like there were cool historical facts she wanted to impart, and she structured the story around the facts. The chapter headings, which are primary source quotes from history, only exaggerated this fact. And even with short chapters, which I usually love, it took me ages to read this. It just felt too much like something a teacher would assign as a curricular tie, rather than a story in and of itself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    When their former owner dies, two girls should be free. The heir, however, decides to sell them to a cruel Loyalist couple in New York. There, Isobel (the older and responsible sister) struggles to protect her younger epileptic sister. This book does a good job of explaining the confusion surrounding slavery during the American Revolution, and ties historical events to a character that we grow to care about.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hart

    It is 1776 and the Colonies are fighting for freedom from England. In New York a 13 year old girl, Isabel, is looking forward to her own freedom from slavery. She has witnessed her loved elderly owner sign a release from slavery for herself and her younger sister Ruth upon the lady's death. Buy when her owner dies, a distant nephew and the lady's only heir states the promised release from slavery does not exist, and claims the girls as his property. Isabel and her sister are sold at auction whe It is 1776 and the Colonies are fighting for freedom from England. In New York a 13 year old girl, Isabel, is looking forward to her own freedom from slavery. She has witnessed her loved elderly owner sign a release from slavery for herself and her younger sister Ruth upon the lady's death. Buy when her owner dies, a distant nephew and the lady's only heir states the promised release from slavery does not exist, and claims the girls as his property. Isabel and her sister are sold at auction when she meets Curzon, an older boy with ties to the Patriots. He tries to convince her to spy upon her new Loyalist owners. But she is unsympathetic and declares she will aid either Patriot or Loyalist as long as they can help her to break through her own chains. The girls endure harsh work conditions and hateful treatments that are getting worse and worse. "Madam," her mistress is an especially nasty piece of work. Isabel becomes spy for the Patriots after they promised her freedom. She becomes disenchanted with them when it becomes clear they only want freedom for white people. When she learns the Royalists offer freedom to slaves who escape and join the army she switches sides to help them. However, once again she becomes disenchanted when she learns that if a slave does escape from a Loyalist household, that’s a whole different matter. Her friend Curzon is captured and cruelly treated in a Royalist Prison and she is reluctantly drawn back into the Patriot cause against the Crown, carrying messages from prison to captured officers and back. The historical context isn't simplified, the Patriot cause isn't glorified, and the characters on both sides are flawed, complex, and rich. A masterful use of period turns of phrase and vocabulary along with a touch of dialect give Isabel a narrative voice that conveys a convincing picture of her times. Each chapter begins with a quote from a primary source of that time period, which could spark discussion around blending multiple texts, author's craft moves, and integrating non-fiction sources. Extremely well-written with wonderful metaphors and similes, impeccably researched, exciting, and heart-clenching, this is a fabulous read and a definite contender for the Newbery Award.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donalyn

    During the Revolutionary War, while Patriots fought for freedom from British tyranny, the enslavement of African captives continued on both sides. Laurie Halse Anderson provides another perspective on the war, told through the experiences of Isabel, a black slave in a Tory household, who is used as a pawn to spy for the rebels, who promise to help her gain her freedom. I thought this book provided a new lens for looking at the Revolutionary War (and slavery) and I look forward to passing this boo During the Revolutionary War, while Patriots fought for freedom from British tyranny, the enslavement of African captives continued on both sides. Laurie Halse Anderson provides another perspective on the war, told through the experiences of Isabel, a black slave in a Tory household, who is used as a pawn to spy for the rebels, who promise to help her gain her freedom. I thought this book provided a new lens for looking at the Revolutionary War (and slavery) and I look forward to passing this book to my sixth grade students. This book is similar in to Anderson's other great historical fiction book, Fever 1793.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Once I got into this story it was very compelling. The story is set in New York City during the American Revolution and told by a 13-year-old enslaved African American girl, Isabel. Her owners are Tories, and Isabel's own allegiances are tied to whoever will give her freedom. There were a lot of action and events that kept me captivated. The audiobook narration was top notch. Chains is the first in the Seeds of America trilogy. Written for younger readers, it brings this period in history to lif Once I got into this story it was very compelling. The story is set in New York City during the American Revolution and told by a 13-year-old enslaved African American girl, Isabel. Her owners are Tories, and Isabel's own allegiances are tied to whoever will give her freedom. There were a lot of action and events that kept me captivated. The audiobook narration was top notch. Chains is the first in the Seeds of America trilogy. Written for younger readers, it brings this period in history to life through via a character who is exceedingly brave and resourceful

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    1776 finds the thirteen colonies in the throes of revolution, but in this rural part of Rhode Island, the war has had little effect. Old Mary Finch just died, and in her will she freed her two slaves. Teenaged Isabel looks forward to being emancipated, but wonders what will become of her and her little sister, Ruth, who is both “simple” and epileptic. But Miss Finch’s cruel nephew has no intention of abiding by his aunt’s wishes and sells the girls to a wealthy couple from New York. The Locktons 1776 finds the thirteen colonies in the throes of revolution, but in this rural part of Rhode Island, the war has had little effect. Old Mary Finch just died, and in her will she freed her two slaves. Teenaged Isabel looks forward to being emancipated, but wonders what will become of her and her little sister, Ruth, who is both “simple” and epileptic. But Miss Finch’s cruel nephew has no intention of abiding by his aunt’s wishes and sells the girls to a wealthy couple from New York. The Locktons are Loyalists with Patriots for neighbors, and soon clever Isabel finds herself embroiled in a spy network, even as she struggles to protect Ruth from Madam Lockton’s cruelty and rage. What side should she take in a war where neither side wants to set her free? Setting Anderson brings the colonies to life in all their wide-ranging grossness—the captured soldiers in the dungeons, living and dead unsorted, are chained in their filth and prone to the worst diseases, while upper-class ladies glue mouse fur to their eyebrows and drunken Hessians blow their noses on tablecloths. On the plus side, a lot of their food sounds wholesome and yummy. She also evokes well the smallness of the city then. When Isabel has a day off, she plans to walk across the entire town, and guesses it will only take the better part of the afternoon. Believe it or not, kids, there was a time, long ago, when you could actually see the stars in New York! The book is permeated with dread—the micro-struggle of Isabel, switching sides in the hopes of getting herself and her sister free, mirrors the macro-struggle of New York as it gets tossed like a football between the British and Continental Armies. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Plot Isabel quickly makes the acquaintance of Curzon, slave to a Patriot who lives near the Locktons. Curzon’s cowardly master has signed the boy up to join the army in his place, but Curzon, despite this, sincerely believes in the cause of Independency. So sincerely that he convinces Isabel to spy on the Locktons and their Loyalist compadres. Isabel discovers several juicy bits of information, including a plot to assassinate General Washington. But she soon learns that the average Patriot only cares about liberty for white Americans. The British, meanwhile, promise to emancipate every runaway slave who helps them—provided the slave ran away from a Patriot household. (view spoiler)[Madam Lockton learns of Isabel’s work for the Patriots and retaliates by selling Ruth. Isabel attacks the woman and finds herself jailed, tried by a kangaroo court, put in the public stocks, and branded (with the letter I for “insolent”) on one side of her face. The Patriots whom she risked everything to help do nothing for her now. She catches a terrible fever in jail, which goes untreated until she is taken to the house of Lady Seymour, Mr. Lockton’s aunt, to recover. Lady Seymour is a kind and gentle woman, but so very traditional that it never occurs to her to help Isabel escape instead of returning her to her sadistic owners. The British take New York, capturing much of the Continental Army. Officers are lodged comfortably enough, but common soldiers (including Curzon) are held in the bowels of the city jail, where they stay in the foulest conditions, dying of disease, malnutrition, and cold. Isabel starts visiting the jail to help Curzon, but soon finds herself delivering messages between the miserable prisoners and their captain, lodged in a much nicer prison. Back at the Lockton house, Mr. Lockton flees the city in fear of a Patriot surge, leaving his wife behind to waste money on ball gowns and heap more cruelties on Isabel. The girl’s only ally, Lady Seymour, has suffered what we today call a stroke, and cannot help her much. (hide spoiler)] Characters Isabel is a deftly-rendered protagonist whom other historical fiction writers should look to. At the tender age of thirteen, she is a rock of strength. She has fine-honed problem-solving skills and sass to spare, and is unintimidated by any physical obstacle. Yet she is also firmly grounded in her time period. She doesn’t consider herself a victim or spout twenty-first century intersectional feminist talking points. She’s attracted to Curzon but has no time for romantic daydreams about him or anyone else. She believes firmly both in Jesus and in the African ancestors. I’ll tell you more about Curzon in my review of .Forge (coming soon). He’s the protagonist and narrator of that book. Here he’s more of a supporting character—and a charming one. He starts out as a note of brevity(view spoiler)[, and then his luck changes. His suffering in the city jail is heartrending. (hide spoiler)] Madam Lockton is a bottomless pit of hate. She’s obsessed with keeping up appearances, and trapped in a marriage to a man who’s afraid to face the Patriots but has no problem throwing her at the nearest piece of furniture. Everyone around this woman falls victim to her spleen. Her husband deserves it, but the other poor souls do not. She spends most of her time trying to break Isabel’s spirit and hoping for Lady Seymour to die already. Sweet Lady Seymour is exemplary of a lot of white people at this time. She doesn’t like slavery personally, and is horrified by the inhumanity of her nephew and (especially) niece-in-law. She gives Isabel a place to recover from her horrifying ordeal, honors her debt to Isabel when the latter saves her from a house fire, and provides her with new clothes and shoes free of charge. She even wants to buy Isabel from her nephew. But it never occurs to her—or to many other “nice” white people throughout the book—that the best thing any of them could do for Isabel and her sister is set them free. Content Advisory for Parents, Teachers, Librarians, and Sensitive Kids Violence: Isabel is often hit or punched by Madam Lockton(view spoiler)[, who also instigates the horrifying branding at the crux of the novel and locks her in a potato crate. (hide spoiler)] Prisoners in the city jail are left in their own vomit, blood, and waste—and sometimes the living have to share their cells with corpses. Sex: Nothing. Language: A number of epithets from the time period are used, most of which have fallen out of usage. Only one is recognizable—a different spelling of the N word. Drugs and Booze: Madam often gets drunk, which sometimes makes her violent and sometimes makes her sleepy. Isabel once has to wait on some rowdy, plastered Hessians whose antics include blowing their noses on the tablecloth. Conclusion Chains is a remarkable achievement. Laurie Halse Anderson successfully immerses the reader in the world, language and customs of the eighteenth century while keeping her novel of espionage, justice, and daring as taut and thrilling and fast-paced as any James Patterson offering. Substance and style are in perfect harmony. She also presents a nuanced view of the Revolutionary War from a perspective we tend to forget about. Slavery did not appear by dark magic a few years before the Civil War; it was a cancer our country had even before it was born. Yet Anderson doesn’t take sides. She judges each individual for themselves, rather than which George they were loyal to. Some say this book should supplant Johnny Tremain in the school curricula, but I would argue loudly against that. Tremain is also a masterpiece, and having a white boy for a main character doesn’t invalidate it. (view spoiler)[(He’s disabled. Shouldn’t that get him some PC brownie points?) (hide spoiler)] Instead, I’d suggest both books be read as companions, providing two different perspectives and hence a balanced image of the era. Plus, they’re both excellent novels. Chains in the first book of a trilogy. Reviews of volumes II and III, Forge and Ashes , forthcoming.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    4.5 stars. Maybe it's the childhood trauma caused by being forced to read Johnny Tremain and My Brother Sam Is Dead but my overzealous parents, but I've never been interested – at all, not even a little – in books set during the American Revolution. I don't have anything against the actual time period, but novels? Not so much. But leave it to Laurie Halse Anderson, author of two of my favorite Young Adult novels, to change all that. I'm on record as stating that Anderson's Speak and Wintergirls ar 4.5 stars. Maybe it's the childhood trauma caused by being forced to read Johnny Tremain and My Brother Sam Is Dead but my overzealous parents, but I've never been interested – at all, not even a little – in books set during the American Revolution. I don't have anything against the actual time period, but novels? Not so much. But leave it to Laurie Halse Anderson, author of two of my favorite Young Adult novels, to change all that. I'm on record as stating that Anderson's Speak and Wintergirls are examples of just how good YA can be, but I wasn't sure if she could sell the historical fiction angle. I needn't have worried. Set in New York in 1776, Chains is narrated by Isabel, a 13-year-old girl who tells the story of her enslavement and subsequent turn as an American spy. She and her sister Ruth are sold to a pair of cruel and merciless British loyalists after their previous master dies and the will granting their freedom is lost. It starts slow (thus the missing half-star in my rating), but soon Isabel has met Curzon, another slave who is actively serving in the rebel army. Horribly abused by the her new owners, the Locktons (especially cruel is Madam Lockton), Isabel actively begins sharing secrets from the Lockton loyalists to the Patriot soldiers. Commendably, Anderson doesn't attempt to whitewash Isabel's treatment at the hands of the Locktons. It's a difficult read at times – there's a scene where she's publicly tortured that's particularly harrowing – but it strikes me as vital that we remember that many of the founding fathers were at best sympathizers to the slave trade and at worst were slave owners themselves (hi, Thomas Jefferson!). And that's where Anderson's book is so savvy: she doesn't play sides, except to tell Isabel's story – which means, I suppose, that her only side is the truth. For slaves, there were no good guys, so the Patriots aren't painted with the stereotypical angelic hue, and the Brits and their loyalists are every bit as cruel as their colonial counterparts. It's a book of shading and nuance, of gray areas and sophistication, and for that reason it's easy to see just how dire Isabel's situation is. Who do you trust when both sides are equally devoted to your dehumanization? Chains works for other reasons, too. The book is peppered with throwaway references to various aspects of 1776 – Nathan Hale, the reading of the Declaration of Indpendence, the attack on Fort Washington – so there's a palpable verisimilitude: Isabel's stakes seem real because she's situated so clearly in a real place at a real time. And Isabel herself is a vividly-drawn character with a strong voice that transcends YA's typical Spunky Heroine™. Chains joins M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing books as one of the most important YA titles to tackle this extremely dark chapter in American history.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Chains was a wonderful book by Laurie Halse Anderson - sad and filled with sorrow, but hopeful at the same time. It's historical fiction, which usually consists of deterring facts, but Anderson writes extremely well and keeps the characters compelling. The story centers around Isabel, who was promised freedom alongside her sister but by a cruel twist of fate ended up being sold again. She works for an inhumane Tory family, of whom the headmistress is especially evil. Isabel is inspirited though, Chains was a wonderful book by Laurie Halse Anderson - sad and filled with sorrow, but hopeful at the same time. It's historical fiction, which usually consists of deterring facts, but Anderson writes extremely well and keeps the characters compelling. The story centers around Isabel, who was promised freedom alongside her sister but by a cruel twist of fate ended up being sold again. She works for an inhumane Tory family, of whom the headmistress is especially evil. Isabel is inspirited though, and will do whatever it takes to free herself and her sister from the clutches of their master. I did not know there was going to be a sequel (I don't think it says so on the cover) but I guess that's a good thing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Laurie Halse Anderson is such a diversely talented writer. She not only can craft beautiful narratives filled with great characters, but she can deftly weave in historical facts as well. So often in historical fiction the author tries to shoehorn in historical facts in what feels like a desperate attempt to prove that they have done exhaustive research and don't want any of it to go to waste. Anderson's novel is brimming with historical facts, but rarely do they feel out of place. Anderson's stor Laurie Halse Anderson is such a diversely talented writer. She not only can craft beautiful narratives filled with great characters, but she can deftly weave in historical facts as well. So often in historical fiction the author tries to shoehorn in historical facts in what feels like a desperate attempt to prove that they have done exhaustive research and don't want any of it to go to waste. Anderson's novel is brimming with historical facts, but rarely do they feel out of place. Anderson's story is heartbreaking, on multiple levels. It's a story of the search for freedom, and how it is so often stymied. The Americans are fighting a war for their freedom, but willfully ignore the plight of the slaves. It's heartbreaking to watch Isabel have her personhood and her freedom denied by everyone she meets. Isabel sees her family torn apart, the few friends she has in the world are horribly mistreated, and we the readers get to see bits and pieces of the historical narrative unfold at the beginning of each chapter with a snippet of writing from the era, often foreshadowing the event or theme of the next chapter. These add an additional layer to the story, as we get information that would never be available to Isabel, and are witnesses to some of the terrible hypocrisy of the time that leads and entire country to war for the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and yet systematically denies those rights to hundreds of thousands of people in the country. Overall, this is definitely another page turner from Laurie Halse Anderson. It's set up for a sequel, and while I feel like this story is complete (I'm happy with not knowing every single detail sometimes), I'm certainly curious about what will happen next.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    If you like historical fiction then Chains is likely right up your alley. I thought this was a young adult novel but it was aimed at a younger audience. It would be an appropriate middle grade read for grades 5-8, but was so well written it could easily appeal to teens and adults as well. Chains is set at the start of the Revolutionary War. I'm no history expert but this felt like it was an accurate account of what life was like at that time period. My daughter has to read several historical fict If you like historical fiction then Chains is likely right up your alley. I thought this was a young adult novel but it was aimed at a younger audience. It would be an appropriate middle grade read for grades 5-8, but was so well written it could easily appeal to teens and adults as well. Chains is set at the start of the Revolutionary War. I'm no history expert but this felt like it was an accurate account of what life was like at that time period. My daughter has to read several historical fiction novels this year and I'm going to recommend she choose this as one of them. Rating: 4.5 Stars Content: Clean Source: Library

  23. 5 out of 5

    Beth Anne

    Fantastic historical fiction set leading up to and during the revolutionary war. The main character is a young enslaved girl in a Loyalist household. I loved how historical details were seamlessly woven into this exciting story. I would have been head over heels for this book as a kid and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. The author did a good job of keeping historical accuracy with the difficult details of how people treated slaves and captured troops. Sensitive readers could skip chapter Fantastic historical fiction set leading up to and during the revolutionary war. The main character is a young enslaved girl in a Loyalist household. I loved how historical details were seamlessly woven into this exciting story. I would have been head over heels for this book as a kid and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. The author did a good job of keeping historical accuracy with the difficult details of how people treated slaves and captured troops. Sensitive readers could skip chapter 23 and not miss any storyline, and other descriptions were more brief. This book will make for great discussion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I really loved this. It is so well written and really shows how unjust slavery was. The characters were very interesting, too. This is a really great story (it is also set in the same time period as Hamilton). I love all of the characters and seeing what they do next. I'm glad that I read this for book group again just because I got to read it in a new way. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction. I really loved this. It is so well written and really shows how unjust slavery was. The characters were very interesting, too. This is a really great story (it is also set in the same time period as Hamilton). I love all of the characters and seeing what they do next. I'm glad that I read this for book group again just because I got to read it in a new way. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mikayla

    I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. It was so unique, and interesting take on the revolutionary war. I found myself so cought up in Isabels life that it was hard to put down. While not told from a Christian perspective, this book was fairly respectful of faith. The characters were so masterfully crafted that I knew each one the moment they came on page. I look forward to reading the next book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    I’m a huge Laurie Halse Anderson fan and CHAINS is the first book of hers I didn’t enjoy. Giving a star rating is difficult because the book is well researched and a quality novel. I didn’t enjoy reading CHAINS and I would not have enjoyed it when I was a MG reader at age seven or eight or when I was a MG tween, which shouldn’t diminish the fact that CHAINS is an excellent, important book. I likely won’t read the other two in the series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Daviau

    DNF - Just not capturing my attention at all.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Valliya Rennell

    1.5 stars DNF at 33% Look. I really wanted to like this. I've heard such great things about it! Aaaand I didn't really like it. I don't know, but sometimes, you try so so hard to like a book, but its just not your type and you have to break up. And the thing is, I'm going to be meeting the author in a month or two, so that's gonna be awkward! The story follows the two sisters Isabel and Ruth as they are taken to work as maidens for the treacherous, Loyalist family known as the Locktons. They were 1.5 stars DNF at 33% Look. I really wanted to like this. I've heard such great things about it! Aaaand I didn't really like it. I don't know, but sometimes, you try so so hard to like a book, but its just not your type and you have to break up. And the thing is, I'm going to be meeting the author in a month or two, so that's gonna be awkward! The story follows the two sisters Isabel and Ruth as they are taken to work as maidens for the treacherous, Loyalist family known as the Locktons. They were sold, right after their old caretaker died, but instead of being released like they were supposed to. An opportunity opens for Isabel to be a spy for the Patriots, and she works hard, because,through the Patriots, will she be able to finally be free from the Locktons? I want to recommend this book, but again, I don't really know to whom, because I didn't like it myself. Readers of historical fiction might like this book, because it is set in 1776, during the fights for freedom from England for America. The main reason, in my opinion, why I didn't like the novel was, because I just did not care about Isabel and her sister. It was kind of like this: Author: Their mother died. Me: Ok. That's too bad for them. Author: Their old caretaker died. Me: Man their life sucks. Author: Their dad died. Me: Did anyone not die? Author: Isabel wants to be free. Me: Aaand I'm guessing that she will be in the end. After this back and forth for quite some time, I just gave up because I couldn't keep on pushing it. It was also so sloooow. Yes, I understand that this was the tone for the novel, but I just wasn't in the mood for something slow, because I read, and hated Flame in the Mist and needed desperately to be pulled out of a reading slump. I achieved the counter effect. I think that this won't stop me from reading more of the author's work, because I feel as if there is something that I can find for myself. As you may know, I am a HUGE Hamilton fan, and because of this, and the time period, this book won an extra .5 stars. The setting was really presented well, so it is a bit of a redemption. Overall, this is yet another novel for which I think that I set the expectations a bit too high, and I just could not continue. Sorry... but not sorry. I wanted to like this, so I'm going to give Laurie Halse Anderson another try.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Morgan F

    Laurie Halse Anderson is the bees knees. I love her. Every single novel of hers that I've read is powerful and well-well written. Her historical fiction books are no different. This book is about 13 yr old Isabel, who is a slave during the time of the American Revolution. Following her mistress's death, she and her 5 year old sister, Ruth, are wrongfully sold to the Locktons. The Locktons are an influential Tory family living in New York city, which is divided amongst the Patriots and those stil Laurie Halse Anderson is the bees knees. I love her. Every single novel of hers that I've read is powerful and well-well written. Her historical fiction books are no different. This book is about 13 yr old Isabel, who is a slave during the time of the American Revolution. Following her mistress's death, she and her 5 year old sister, Ruth, are wrongfully sold to the Locktons. The Locktons are an influential Tory family living in New York city, which is divided amongst the Patriots and those still loyal to the King. Isabel meets a young slave boy named Curzon, who is owned by Patriot leader, and is coerced into reporting information about the Locktons. She was hesitant to do this until the Locktons sell Ruth, and Isabel realizes she would be willing to do anything for her freedom so she can be reunited with her sister. I love YA historical fiction that isn't about scandalous socialites and steamy romances. It's fresh and smart, and I'm so thankful for books like this when I've had it up to here *raises hand up to eye level* with dumb YA paranormals. This isn't the first book I've read that was narrated by a slave during the revolution (The Pox Party) but it certainly was the most relatable. I like how the book concluded nicely, but still leaves the reader in anticipation of a sequel. I also like the hints of a romance ("He's my brother" my ass). I'm certainly looking forward to reading Forge. I always thought the American Revolution was a boring war (which it kinda is), but its more interesting, I think, form a slaves perspective. That is when you understand the irony of a nation fighting for its freedom when some of its own people were still in chains. And that's all I have to say about that.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    A real writer's writer, Laurie Halse Anderson struts her stuff in the historical fiction aisle as she serves up the story of two young black sisters promised their freedom upon their Rhode Island mistress' deat; instead the young girls get sold to an unscrupulous Tory couple living in that 1776 hotbed of British sympathizers, New York City. Characterization and writing style carry the day in this novel, and it more than compensates for a plot which, like its principal, young Isabel, is bound by A real writer's writer, Laurie Halse Anderson struts her stuff in the historical fiction aisle as she serves up the story of two young black sisters promised their freedom upon their Rhode Island mistress' deat; instead the young girls get sold to an unscrupulous Tory couple living in that 1776 hotbed of British sympathizers, New York City. Characterization and writing style carry the day in this novel, and it more than compensates for a plot which, like its principal, young Isabel, is bound by chains of various sorts for much of the 300 pp. Isabel puts a human face on America's black eye, slavery -- an institution that was every bit as pervasive and foul at the time of our nation's birth as it was at the time of our nation's uncivil war some 90 years later. Madam Lockton, the sadistic owner, will show just how far an owner can go when the law is on her side. It all allows Anderson ample opportunity to explore the theme of freedom, which obviously held for some humans more than others. This book will feature a sequel, called FORGE. An excellent educational piece, CHAINS would be perfect background material for schools teaching the American Revolution. It stands on its own as great historically-accurate fiction writing as well.

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