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Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) Paperback – January 5, 2010
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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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.
- Format: Hardcover
- Publication Date: 10/21/2008
- Pages: 320
- Reading Level: Age 10 and Up
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In a time like today when we face the possible repression of our people, it behooves us to examine history. So many of us believe our founding fathers were good people. We believe what they said and did was sacrosanct. We've honor them and set them up as near dieties. But, in reality they were people. Full of flaws, just like us. Had they lost the Revolutionary War, they would have been shunned and called traitors. Having won, we herald them as heroes.
In Chains we examine what it might have been like during that turbulent, uncertain time to have been a slave. The main character, Isabel, is a Negro child, trying to protect her younger sister. Alone, enslaved, abused, she struggles to achieve her rightful freedoms. The author did an amazing job of telling Isabel's story without overdramatizing the hardships. Made it easier for me to read.
The times are tempestuous at best. Finding herself in New York City at the time of the British invasion, Isabel sways from the rebel side to the British side. Her goal is not a country's freedom, which she recognizes as not pertaining to her, but the freedom of herself and her sister. She'll risk her life to achieve that goal.
Each chapter begins with a clip from a primary source, a newspaper article, a letter from a patriot or a British soldier, an excerpt from our historical documents. Those headings ground the chapter in history. The author strives to tell Isabel's story as accurately as she can all these years later.
Book 2 and 3 are finished. Thank goodness for those of us just finding this trilogy. Because when you finish Chains, you'll not want to wait to keep reading.
Here are some examples of the beautiful writing:
...Being loyal to the one who owned me gave me prickly thoughts, like burrs trapped in my shift, pressing into my skin with every step.
...There was truth in his words, hard truth, a hammer sticking a stone
..."Gossip is the foul smell of the Devil's backside," that's what Momma always said.
...Her voice sounded raw, like it had been run against a grater.
The absolute essence of this first book is written in these words from Isabel's mouth: I was chained between two nations.
Enjoy this wonderful series. If it doesn't win the National Book Award, it certainly should have!!i
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.)
Most recent customer reviews
"As a ten year old student currently reading various Revolutionary War era historical fiction, this is by far one of the most vivid, powerful books I have...Read more