A novel that deals with big social issues by looking at the lives of ordinary people. Like Celia Rees's Mary in Witch Child, Isabel is a girl who is simply doing the best she can to survive and in the process telling a story that will resonate with readers everywhere. 2008 US NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
Laurie Halse Anderson lives in the USA and is the multi-award-winning author of many bestselling novels, including Speak and Fever 1793. Chains is the first in a series of three books to feature the defiant heroine, Isabel.
Gr 6-10-Set in New York City at the beginning of the American Revolution, Chains addresses the price of freedom both for a nation and for individuals. Isabel tells the story of her life as a slave. She was sold with her five-year-old sister to a cruel Loyalist family even though the girls were to be free upon the death of their former owner. She has hopes of finding a way to freedom and becomes a spy for the rebels, but soon realizes that it is difficult to trust anyone. She chooses to find someone to help her no matter which side he or she is on. With short chapters, each beginning with a historical quote, this fast-paced novel reveals the heartache and struggles of a country and slave fighting for freedom. The characters are well developed, and the situations are realistic. An author's note gives insight into issues surrounding the Revolutionary War and the fight for the nation's freedom even though 20 percent of its people were in chains. Well researched and affecting in its presentation, the story offers readers a fresh look at the conflict and struggle of a developing nation.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'Chains is one of the most moving and striking books I have read in a long time; finally some thoughtful stirring historical fiction for young adults ... Anyone reading this brilliant book will be left beguiled' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'Isabel's captivating voice as she struggles to escape her owners in New York is painfully convincing ... you love her tenderness and courage as she experiences poverty, cruelty, powerlessness and kindness' The Times
Pursuing similar themes as M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing, this gripping novel offers readers a startlingly provocative view of the Revolutionary War. Isabel Finch, the narrator, and her five-year-old sister, Ruth, are to be freed from slavery upon the death of their mistress in Rhode Island, but the mistress's unscrupulous heir easily persuades the local pastor to dispense with reading the will. Before long Isabel and Ruth are in New York City, the property of a Loyalist couple, whose abusiveness inspires Isabel to a dangerous course: she steals into the Patriot army camp to trade a crucial Loyalist secret in exchange for passage to Rhode Island for herself and Ruth. But not only does the Patriot colonel fail to honor his promise, he personally hands her over to her Loyalist mistress when she runs away, to face disastrous consequences. Anderson (Speak; Fever 1793) packs so much detail into her evocation of wartime New York City that readers will see the turmoil and confusion of the times, and her solidly researched exploration of British and Patriot treatment of slaves during a war for freedom is nuanced and evenhanded, presented in service of a fast-moving, emotionally involving plot. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.