From School Library Journal
Gr 6-10–This sequel to Chains (S & S, 2008) opens with Curzon, an enslaved teen who was freed from prison by Isabel, recalling his escape and anticipating the future. After an argument with Isabel about where they should go next, the 15-year-old battles the British at Saratoga and winters in Valley Forge with the Patriots. He reveals many details of the conditions endured by the soldiers during the winter of 1777-1778, including the limited food supply, lack of adequate shelter, and tattered clothing. When Curzon and Isabel meet again, they have both been captured and must devise a plan of escape once again. While the Patriots are fighting for the freedom of a country, these young people must fight for their personal freedom. This sequel can be read alone but readers will benefit from reading the first book, which develops the characters and reveals events leading up to the winter at Valley Forge. An appendix clarifies historical facts and real-life characters. A list of colloquial terms used throughout the novel is appended.Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
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Anderson follows her searing, multi-award-winning novel Chains (2008) with this well-researched sequel, also set during the Revolutionary War and narrated by a young African American. This time, though, her central character is male, and the heartbreaking drama shifts from Chains’ domestic town houses to graphically described bloody battlefields. After a narrowly successful escape from Manhattan, former slaves Isabel and Curzon separate, and Curzon is once again on the run. He finds necessary food and shelter as a private with the Continental army, and through Curzon’s eyes, Anderson re-creates pivotal historical scenes, including the desperate conditions at Valley Forge. Curzon isn’t as fully realized here as Isabel was in Chains, resulting in a less-cohesive and -compelling whole. Once again, though, Anderson’s detailed story creates a cinematic sense of history while raising crucial questions about racism, the ethics of war, and the hypocrisies that underlie our country’s founding definitions of freedom. Chapter heads excerpted from historical documents and a long appendix that offers research suggestions and separates fact and fiction add further curricular appeal. Grades 5-8. --Gillian Engberg
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