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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 21, 2008


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Featured Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Read an excerpt, explore the reader's guide, and get a behind-the-scenes look at Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains, a National Book Award finalist.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Seeds of America Trilogy
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416905855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416905851
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the spring of 1776, Isabel, a teenage slave, and her sister, Ruth, are sold to ruthless, wealthy loyalists in Manhattan. While running errands, Isabel is approached by rebels, who promise her freedom (and help finding Ruth, who has been sent away) if she agrees to spy. Using the invisibility her slave status brings, Isabel lurks and listens as Master Lockton and his fellow Tories plot to crush the rebel uprisings, but the incendiary proof that she carries to the rebel camp doesn’t bring the desired rewards. Like the central character in M. T. Anderson’s Octavian Nothing duet, Isabel finds that both patriots and loyalists support slavery. The specifics of Isabel’s daily drudgery may slow some readers, but the catalogue of chores communicates the brutal rhythms of unrelenting toil, helping readers to imagine vividly the realities of Isabel’s life. The story’s perspective creates effective contrasts. Overwhelmed with domestic concerns, Isabel and indeed all the women in the household learn about the war from their marginalized position: they listen at doors to rooms where they are excluded, and they collect gossip from the streets. Anderson explores elemental themes of power (“She can do anything. I can do nothing,” Isabel realizes about her sadistic owner), freedom, and the sources of human strength in this searing, fascinating story. The extensive back matter includes a documented section that addresses many questions about history that readers will want to discuss. Grades 7-10. --Gillian Engberg

More About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous American Library Association and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also made the Carnegie Medal Shortlist in the United Kingdom.

Laurie was the proud recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature...". She was also honored with the ALAN Award from the National Council of Teachers of English and the St. Katharine Drexel Award from the Catholic Librarian Association.

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. She and her husband, Scot, plus dogs Kezzie and Thor, and assorted chickens and other critters enjoy country living and time in the woods. When not writing or hanging out with her family, you can find Laurie training for marathons or trying to coax tomatoes out of the rocky soil in her backyard. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, http://twitter.com/halseanderson, and on her blog, http://madwomanintheforest.com/blog/.

Customer Reviews

I recommend everyone who loves historical and exciting books to read Chains.
Nancy C. Gile
She has read some of those "Who is.." books, which are really good, but I want her to get into some serious reading.
indieblack
I’m no history expert but this felt like it was an accurate account of what life was like at that time period.
toobusyreading

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By L. K. Messner on October 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson tells the story of Isabel, a slave trapped in New York City in the early days of the Revolution. Sold to Loyalists when her former owner dies, she's offered the chance to spy for the Patriots. But does their talk of liberty really include her? What about the British, who promise freedom to slaves who join their fight against the rebels?

This book is impeccably researched in a way that not only convinced me I was getting "the real deal" as far as the historical details are concerned but also transported me straight back into the 18th century. Some historical novels that have tackled this issue in the past have made it overly simple, but CHAINS is different. The historical context isn't simplified, the Patriot cause isn't glorified, and the characters are flawed, complex, and rich. As a reader and as a teacher, I am in serious book-love. As soon as I read the advance reader copy, I made plans to use this novel in my 7th grade classroom. CHAINS is a well-researched look at choices made by individuals during the Revolution, a coming-of-age story for a girl and a nation, and an absolute page-turner. It's everything that historical fiction ought to be.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The heroine in Laurie Halse Anderson's gripping new middle level children's book, "Chains" is a thirteen year old slave named Isabel, headstrong, fierce in her determination to keep her epileptic sister Ruth with her, intuitive, and strong. What might fell the mightiest of people only serves to strengthen Isabel, time and time again, proving that determination was much needed during this turbulent time in our nation's history. "Chains" is the children's book of the year. It's that good.

Anderson's blending of a slave story with the the Revolutionary War and the battle of New York creates a story ripe with possibilities and is fresh and new. At the beginning of the story, Isabel and Ruth attend the funeral of their former owner, thinking that a will would give them freedom. Alas, it was not to be. An unscrupulous relative sells off the girls to the first customers, a pair of England loyalists named Lockton, who transport the pair to their New York home to serve them.

Immediately off the boat, Isabel befriends a spritely lad Curzon, who begs to employ her in the cause of the American Revolution, playing brilliantly on the fact that white society deemed black slaves to be invisible. Only wanting her freedom, Isabel promises nothing but soon delivers, after learning of a plot to kill General Washington. When that doesn't give her freedom, she begins to mistrust the patriots' cause, and learns of the British claim to ensure freedom to any slaves that would join up against the revolution.

What makes this book novel is a slavery story set, not in the south, but New York City, which naturally leads to the discussion of how slavery was in our early history throughout the country and not just in one area. It also plays with the themes of which "side" in a war is the good side?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By dampscribbler on November 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We all learned in school about Paul Revere, the Redcoats, and the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Laurie Halse Anderson's excellent "Chains" tells the story of a young girl, Isabel, and her little sister who lived as slaves during the same time. Isabel observes the twists and turns of the white men's governments while she seeks her own opportunity to regain the freedom that is rightfully hers -- not only were she and her sister legally freed upon the death of her original mistress, but Isabel knows in her heart, her soul, and her head, that there is nothing right about one person owning another. Isabel is a smart, likeable character. The wisdom which seems beyond her years is hard won as a result of her circumstances -- from learning to read as a "priveleged" slave to learning to keep her mouth shut in her new, cruel household. I highly recommend "Chains," and I look forward to the next title in what I hope will be a series of historical novels from the talented Laurie Halse Anderson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By toobusyreading TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
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
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TammyJo Eckhart VINE VOICE on October 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For ages 10+ this is an intense account of slavery in pre-Independence times of the USA. Too often we think that slavery only got bad in the 19th century or that it was limited to southern plantations. That is not the truth. Nor is it the truth that every slave owner was evil or every slave an innocent suffering. Laurie Halse Anderson does an excellent job of showing the complexities of slavery in the life of one young slave (her age is never given), her mentally handicapped 5 year old sister, and those they must interact with to survive the challenge of war. If you are not familiar with the true nature of slavery you will find this book disturbing. The question and answer section at the end of the book answers a lot of questions you may have about this period in American history.
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