Book Review 3: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Posted August 29, 2009 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 0 Comments

Book Review 3:  Chains by Laurie Halse AndersonChains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Series: Seeds of America #1
Published by Atheneum on October 21, 2008
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Pages: 316
My Rating: five-stars

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

This is the 2nd book I’ve read by Laurie Halse Anderson, the first being Speak, a REALLY good book. This also turned into being a pretty good book. It is about a slave girl named Isabel and her younger sister Ruth. It is taking place during the time of the American Revolution. Which actually is a unique time for a children’s book to be written about slaves. Normally you tend to read about the civil war time period. Isabel and Ruth’s masters die. They had promised to set them free, but the lawyer who supposedly has these papers is out of town at the time, and so they get sold by a relative. The people who buy them are Tories or Loyalists to Britain. The wife is horribly mean to the two girls. Isabel is trying the whole time to find a way to get herself and Ruth their promised freedom, but is blocked at every door. When Madam gets upset with Isabel, shortly after she finds out that Ruth has fits, she drugs Isabel, and tells her when she’s woke up the next day that Ruth has been sold. Isabel gets so upset that she runs off. She is caught, and branded. At this point, I was in tears. Isabel has been unsure throughout the whole book which side is the right one. The Loyalists seem to be better for slaves, yet don’t ever come through for her. The rebels promise things in exchange for her help in spying on her master, but then they don’t seem to be able to make good on what they have kind of promised. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, we haven’t seen all the way through the Revolution, and so there is supposed to be a sequel.

The only thing I wasn’t thrilled about was the chapters having the dates on them. Some chapters were part of a day, the next chapter was still the same day, and then other chapters were several days. That was an annoying way to bother with labelling the chapter. At least in my opinion. But I will highly recommend this to kids, as well as teachers looking for a good book about the American Revolution with a new, unusual viewpoint.

I started my 4th book today, The Boy Who Dared. About a German boy during the time of Hitler. I didn’t remember by the title, but it is also a book I had really wanted to read when I saw it at the bookstore. I hope to have it finished tonight, and then I’ll really be on track.

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