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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) Paperback – January 5, 2010
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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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
I took a long break from fiction before picking this book up because books I read didn't draw me that much. I even started to question writers' abilities to write another great book after picking up some bad ones to read. The well has been emptied. That's what I thought.
This is the first book I read by Laurie Halse Anderson and from then on, I started looking for her other works. I loved the voice of the main character. It drew me in right away. I couldn't put it down. Writing was flawest. And I almost never say that about most of the books I read. When writing flaws and the character speaks through, you immerse yourself to see the main character's journey with your heart leaping. The writer made me care and root for the protagonist.
You can check out the first chapter before you buy the book. And if you enjoy it, you won't be disappointed. If someone really pushed me to the wall to pick a chapter from that book to remove, it would be the first chapter. With each page, you get another treat.
The writer hid one important fact from the start to hit you on the face when it's revealed later on. I raised a question in the first chapter and thought the writer was careless to reveal it. I was wrong. A less accomplished writer would do just that, reveal that information in the first chapter. But not Laurie. She knew that waiting and revealing it later will shock you and it did just that.
Many writers never let their fiction characters have small triumphs along the way. When the main protagonist had small victories, I wasn't bored but cheered on.
What a wonderful way to weave history and three dimentional characters. Descriptions were sharp. Settings were well drawn out. And what a great history lesson at the same time.
This book has been picked by my son's teacher. My son is ten. I questioned if this book is suitable for such a young age group when I was engrossed in details of tortures and mistreatments of slaves. But it would be unjustice to hide it from young kids who are learning about history. They need to see things in light. And history does repeat itself.
(It might not be a good read for your son if he's reading comics or Diaries of a Whimpy Kid. My son didn't complain but wasn't eager as well to get started. When I questioned him to see how much he understands from it, I was nicely surprised how well he understood what was going on. So don't be afraid to give it to your kid. But don't be mad if your son prefers comics. Be patient.)
I was aghast when I reached the end of the book and relized it was the first in a trilogy. I immediately purchased the second book, Forge, on my Kindle. Although written for middle-grade readers, Chains is well worth the attention of adults, too. Anderson's writing is accessible and interesting for all ages.
Most recent customer reviews
It is amazing and i was so happy i read this book for school.it was a great book