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If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?

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.

Topics: Slavery, American Revolution, Sisters, Race Relations, Abuse, Civil and Political Rights, Survival, Realistic, Domestic, Adventurous, American Revolutionary Period, New York City, and Series

Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers on
ISBN: 9781416998617
List price: $7.99
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    Isabel and her sister Ruth were supposed to be freed upon the death of their master, instead they are sold to the Locktons, a wealthy loyalist couple living in New York City. Isabel is renamed (sal), branded, and worked to the bone. Separated from her sister, Isabel goes numb. She meets another slave, Curzon, who tries to get her to help the patriot cause. A powerful story about the desire for freedom and a chapter of early American history.more
    How many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fight for freedom just as Isabel begins the fight for hers - for Isabel is a slave. Meant to be freed on the death of her Rhode Island owner, Isabel and her epileptic younger sister Ruth are instead unscrupulously sold by their previous owner's nephew to Loyalists, the Locktons from New York. At first, Isabel thinks they'll be able to get by with the Locktons by working hard, but soon her nightmare begins as she learns Mrs. Lockton is both petty and vicious. When Ruth's epilepsy is revealed to a horrified Mrs. Lockton, Isabel knows that she must find a way to freedom before Ruth is sold away from her. But who can Isabel turn to when those who fight for freedom uphold slavery? A sequel is in the works and fans of historical fiction won't want to wait to find out what happens next to Isabel in this look at the American Revolution from a brand new point of view.

    Anderson includes a question and answer section at the back to address the historical aspects of her novel, particularly the plight of slaves and prisoners during the war. She does a fantastic job of capturing Isabel's spurts of hopelessness and her slow recovery - set back everytime yet another avenue of escape fails her. The characters are so rounded that they just jump off the pages - everyone is realistically flawed in ways that match their motivations. This would be great as a book discussion title or as a supplement to lessons on the American Revolution.more
    Tightly written, a strong and likable narrator, and an element of American history frequently overlooked in fiction (as it seems many war-era slavery stories are on the Civil, not Revolutionary, war). This is an absorbing story, one I'll be recommending even when we're not looking at the dreaded Historical Fiction project.

    As a note on the audio version: the reader for this is fantastic.more
    This book is truly one of a kind. It won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction and it was a National Book Award Finalist. It is well written and very historically accurate.more
    I am definitely a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson; I've enjoyed every book of hers that I've read so far, and I just think she's a really fantastic writer. I really enjoyed her other middle grade historical fiction book (Fever 1793, which I read last year) and Chains was nominated for a National Book Award, so I definitely had to read it. And of course, it was just as fantastic as I expected it would be. Chains is the first in Laurie Halse Anderson's Seeds of America series, set in the Revolutionary War era and following the life and adventures of Isabel, a young slave girl. Isabel is sold to a household of Loyalists, the mistress of which is incredibly cruel to her and her younger sister, who is bought along with her. Isabel isn't interested in any war for independence, however, just the freedom that she and her sister had been promised when their former master died. And Isabel is willing to do whatever it takes, and work with whoever she needs to, to get it. Chains fit neatly in that spot in my heart that is reserved for really great kid lit. I have a soft spot for children's literature that is well-written and with amazing characters, and this book soars on both counts. Isabel is a character that comes alive off the page, and her resilience and ingenuity keep the story moving along the whole time. The other characters are just as memorable, and jump off the pages as well. The book was very historically accurate, and I found myself immersed in the world of Revolutionary New York City. Whether you read middle grade books or not, Chains is a great read for any historical fiction fan. I can't wait to read the second book in the series, Forge.more
    I’ve had this in my classroom library just based on the author, and finally got a chance to read it. Great historical fiction as it chronicles the life of a slave, Isabel, from Rhode Island (which was a major slave port in the early history of the US). I liked how the characters are given good dimension, as expected from Laurie Halse Anderson. Real people in real situations and not simplistic or preachy like some of this genre can be.more
    After all the hubbub I heard on this book I expected a lot more. Not to say this was a bad book, but I just thought that it could have done more. I found it a little difficult to understand the main character and her motivations. The dialogue, however, I did think was excellent. Perhaps its' best qualities are the additions it makes to the genre in regards to its setting of time and place associated with historical facts.more
    This highly readable story of a young teenage slave girl is a fast-moving, entertaining experience. I use the word “entertaining” because I simply could not put the book down. Anderson works her magic by creating a character that the reader can’t help but to cheer for. Anderson superbly paints the picture of NYC during the Revolutionary War that had me temporarily a part of the community, wondering if I needed to stop reading to run to the water pump.more
    Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is a YA novel that falls under the genre of historical fiction. This story takes place at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The main character is Isabel, who is a thirteen-year-old slave. Isabel and her sister Ruth were always promised that they would gain freedom when their owner passed away, but when their owner does it was not in writing. Isabel and Ruth are sold to the Locktons who live in New York. The Locktons do not treat them the same as their previous owner did, they treat them very poorly.After arriving in New York, Isabel meets another slave named Curzon. Curzon is dedicated to helping the Patriots. He tells Isabel that her best chance at freedom would be to spy on her owner Mr. Lockton who is a Loyalist and knows details on the British invasion. Isabel does not want to do this, but after Ruth gets separated from her she feels like she has no other choice. She begins to spy on Mr. Lockton because she feels that is her only chance of getting freedom and being able to see her sister again. She soon realizes that she can gain the loyalty of the person who can grant her freedom.This books is a great historical fiction novel. It feels like it was written in 1776 as everything was taking place. The main character Isabel keeps you interested with all the twists and turns she must face throughout the story. I feel that all ages would enjoy reading this book.more
    I love Laurie Halse Anderson's writing, and she shows how versatile she is with this book. "Chains" is a very absorbing historical fiction middle grade/young adult book. And I think making historicals for young 'uns actually worthwhile is not an easy feat.I loved Isabel, even though, sure, her character is not completely realistic. (First of all, she can read? For reals? Sorry, I don't buy it.) Though the heart of it all was to get beyond just the simple facts of Revolutionary War America and understand it from a more personal approach. I read this slowly, taking long breaks in between, because there is a lot here that is difficult and painful to read. Which, you know, is essentially the point.more
    This book is about the time when we were having the world war II.We had slavery too. It is a sad stary about a girl (I forgot her name) who was in slavery and her mothe rand owner died. In the will of the owner she said to let the girl and her sister be free.But a guy said that wasnt true. Later on she was sold to another person and was abused badly. She lost her sister because they Lady sold her to someone else. In the middle she meets this boy and he goes to the prison later because he was captured.She brakes him out and they escaped. I liked this book because it told so much about how other people feel. It makes me sad about how mean our ancestors were. Im much nicer then they are. Because all people have feelings cant they see thet.This book is really sad and I cant wait to read the second book.more
    This book was about a girl who was a slave. Her mom died when they arrived in America. The two girls owner had just died. There owner told them they would be free when she died. One of the auctioneers did not believe the two girls. The girls dad got beatened up when they arrived, so they would not be split up. The girls got sold together and there new owner is mean. There owner slaps them and does not care about them. I gave this book a rating of four. I gave it a four because it had a lot of detail in it. The author used a lot of big words. I could imagen the story very clearly. I enjoyed this book and it is one of my favorites. I recommend this book who likes a book with mystery. I read this book everytime I have a chance. When I'm bored I just take out the book and read it.more
    In the year 1776, we meet Isabel, a teenager, and her younger sister Ruth, both of whom are slaves. Their master, a kindly old woman who promised to free them, has died and her son is selling them for a tidy profit, rather than make good on those promises. The girls travel to New York with their new owners who are Loyalists, right as the Rebel forces begin the battle for independence. Isabel tries to win her freedom amid the chaos and frustration of the American Revolution. First she hopes to aid the Rebel forces by spying on her owner, but they fail to protect her and, despite fighting for freedom of their own, will not recognize her as a human being. Then she turns to the Loyalists, but they are only looking to free slaves owned by Rebels. All the while, Isabel must contend with the increasingly desperate and cruelty of her owner, Mrs. Lockton. Isabel must learn to fight for what is right, fend for herself, and creates freedom and hope out of misery and pain. Anderson, who came to prominence in young adult fiction with her award-winning book "Speak", returns to historical fiction in the first book of the Seeds of America series. Unafraid to take chances, Anderson weaves a tale that is simultaneously horrifying, thrilling, and hopeful, and it is utterly engrossing. The depiction of slaves amidst the backdrop of the American Revolution provides ample opportunity for growth and questioning of historical "fact". Teachers and students alike will appreciate the additional background material and author explanations of the true history that surrounds this fictional tale. Readers should take note that Anderson is unafraid to show us the dark underbelly of the country, as well as the sickening means by which Isabel's owners seek to control her fate. These intense themes should keep out readers under the age of 14.more
    Chains is set in New York City at the beginning of the American revolution. It is told from the perspective of Isabel, a young slave girl. Isabel and her younger sister are supposed to be set free but instead are sold to a cruel Loyalist family. In order to punish Isabel, the younger sister is sent away. In an attempt to find freedom and reunite with her sister, Isabel decides to spy for the rebels in hopes that they will help her escape the family that has enslaved her. However, even after providing critical information to the rebels, Isabel is denied the help she she seeks and adopts a stance that she will do whatever it takes and side with either group to find her sister and escape to freedom. The story ends with Isabel freeing a friend from jail and together embarking on a journey to find her sister as well as freedom. The story continues in the sequel titled Forge.Laurie Halse Anderson has created another realistic and moving piece of historical fiction. The characters are well developed and believable. The values and attitudes portrayed in the story are consistent with the time period. One example of this is the part where Isabel is denied help even though she has provided the rebels with critical information simply because she is a slave. Anderson creates vivid details of the setting and creates an affecting story that provides readers with a new perspective of the American Revolution. Suggested grade level: 5-8.more
    Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains (Seeds of America). New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. This story is a fictional tale of a young slave girl living during the Revolutionary War. She is seperated by her little sister and vows to find her at any cost. She agrees to help the Continental Army by spying for them. They promise to help her find her sister. But things get worse for her. This story shows some of the abuse slaves went through by their masters. It also shows how slaves were used to help the different armies gain the upper hand in their battles. This book is accurate in the experiences soldiers had in the prisons. Age group: 12-14 years.more
    Set in New York during the Revolutionary War, this is a story of courage and the desire for freedom. Isabel is a slave who was expecting to be freed upon her owner's death, but instead she and her little sister are sold to a couple in New York who support the English. Isabel is treated cruelly there, while her sister is treated like a pet. Rumors fly that the English soldiers will be freeing slaves, and Isabel does not know where her loyalties lie -- who will free her and help her and her sister escape? She meets Curzon, a young freed slave working with the American patriots, and he tells her that the only path to freedom lies down the dangerous path of spying for the rebellion. Will she spy on her owners and risk being beaten or sold, or will she spy on the rebels to help the British? Excellent writing that reflects thorough research of the events, attitudes and ideas of the times, with a fresh viewpoint. 7th grade and up, but a perfect fit for 8th grade with the Revolutionary War unit. My guess is that this one will be an award-winner.more
    I chose to read this piece of historical fiction for my children's literature class and really enjoyed reading it. It is set during the Revolutionary War and portrays the life of a young African American slave girl named Isabella. I felt like I knew the heart of Isabella and was internally torn as she was when she was promised freedom if she risked her life to share secrets to the patriots. Her courage and passion is so inspiring.more
    A great historical fiction book that brought tears to my eyes. Anderson just has a way with her writing that makes her stories unforgettable. Definatly one of my favorite authorsmore
    Excellent view of slavery and the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a young girl. We learn about slavery from the perspective of the Civil War, but not much is taught about slavery during the Revolutionary War, or how common it was for wealthy Northerners to own slaves. Isabel's perseverance provides a fresh and engaging story.more
    A good book, but I feel it lags in detail. But you should read it, I couldn't put it down in the end.more
    When a young girl and her sister are not freed from slavery when their nice master dies, they are moved to a mean owner. To protect her younger sister and their future, the girl begins an adventure that aids in the American Revolution.more
    This is the story of part of the American Revolutionary War from the perspective of a slave girl in New York City. It is an action packed story with many twists and turns as well as good minor characters. I am not even a Revolutionary War enthusiast, and I loved this book.more
    An excellent historical novel set in the American war of Independance. It is told by Isabel, a young slave girl who is left to look after her 5 year old sister and herself as best she can after the death of her mother and the woman who owned them. Despite being promised freedom, they remain enslaved and at the mercy of those who buy them. This is a book to make you burn with fury at the injustice of slavery. It is well-researched, but character led - although you will learn a lot about the history of the war of Independance and about slavery the information is not forced at the reader in chunks, but skilfully threaded through the story. Isabel is a great character, and her story is continued in Forge.more
    Powerful is the word to use when describing this book. Once again the author accumulated more well-deserved awards in yet another sensitively written novel that tackles a difficult subject. This is a winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction and a National Book Award finalist.Set in revolutionary war time, the story is told by Isabel, a young slave who is sold to a cruel, wealthy loyalist family.As the fires of the revolution burn, the sadness of chains and the burden of shackles is a springboard for the telling of the plight of the American slave and their need for freedom.The setting of New York City is unique and the book is filled with tidbits of a well-researched, accurate historical portrayal.Hoping for freedom, when Isabel is betrayed by the freedom fighters, her face is branded by the loyalists. When her tiny, five year old sister is sold by the loyalists, she learns the bitter truth and blatant hypocrisy of the colonists who want their freedom, but not that of the slaves whom they use and subjugate.Poignant and heartbreaking, page after page is filled with detail of the inhumanity of slavery.Highly recommended!more
    interesting look at freedom and liberty from the perspective of a slave during the American revolution.  more
    This was a fantastic read. It tells the story of a young girl who is a slave during the American War of Independence. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.more
    I need to divulge the fact that I don't typically read Middle Grade fiction but I could not pass this one up. My fascination with history, coupled with the fact that my stepdad is a huge Revolutionary War buff (he even does the Washington's Crossing reenactment every Christmas morning) and my childhood obsession to read everything ever written about slavery, made this novel a must read for me!This book did not disappoint me in any way. I felt the shackles come out and bind me to this novel immediately; I knew I couldn't put this down. What a thoroughly captivating novel with memorable characters and moments. Laurie Halse Anderson proves herself to be a masterful storyteller as she deftly weaves together an evocative fight for freedom through the eyes of Isabel, a Loyalist's slave, and the history of a nation's fight for freedom. The novel doesn't openly "tsk tsk" the nation's gross injustices on the slavery front but rather shows, through Isabel, the implications of such a practice and the glaring hypocrisy of a nation who wants to be free yet are not willing to release their slaves but want nothing more than for them to fight for their cause.At certain points I forgot I was reading a novel meant for a younger audience. The perfectly paced adventure will hook younger readers (as I saw at the LHA event) as well as adults but the impeccable writing and the complexities that lie within the heart of the story, as well as this period in history, will keep adults reading. It was fun to read this book and then converse with my Revolutionary War genius stepfather about the events that were happening in the novel only to learn even more about the particular event--e.g. the fire in New York City--not a spoiler as it is in the history books!I really appreciated Anderson's dedication to keeping the novel pretty much in line with the historical facts. I loved that she focused on the struggle between the Loyalists and the Rebels in New York City as it is an area that often gets overlooked and it really is quite compelling--as I learned further from my step dad. I found the inclusion of pieces from real documents and letters from this time period at the beginning of the chapter to be fascinating and was glad that she added them.Isabel is a character that you will find yourself remembering for a long time to come. She's strong, resilient and entirely loyal to the ones that she loves and cares for. Reading this book felt reminiscent of the feelings that I felt while reading Little House on the Prairie or Little Women as a child. I felt myself wholly transported to another time and side by side with Isabel in her fight. There were moments where I felt like Isabel wasn't quite true to the times, either because of speech or questionable actions, but for the most part I felt like she was convincingly written.The only thing I found to be irksome was the incredibly short chapters. I'd get really into the story and then I was jolted into a new chapter. However, I thought about the fact that this was written for a younger audience with a shorter attention span than mine and found that it was probably perfect for them and I just needed to deal with that minor inconvenience.My final thought: Amazing! I don't care if you don't read MG or YA books, if you like a good historical novel--pick this up! It isn't a wonder that the kids at the signing I went to were hanging on to every word that Laurie uttered and were completely enamored with this novel. It is compelling and the ending will leave you rushing out to by Forge! I think this would be an awesome novel to complement a social studies lesson on this time period.more
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    Reviews

    Isabel and her sister Ruth were supposed to be freed upon the death of their master, instead they are sold to the Locktons, a wealthy loyalist couple living in New York City. Isabel is renamed (sal), branded, and worked to the bone. Separated from her sister, Isabel goes numb. She meets another slave, Curzon, who tries to get her to help the patriot cause. A powerful story about the desire for freedom and a chapter of early American history.more
    How many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fight for freedom just as Isabel begins the fight for hers - for Isabel is a slave. Meant to be freed on the death of her Rhode Island owner, Isabel and her epileptic younger sister Ruth are instead unscrupulously sold by their previous owner's nephew to Loyalists, the Locktons from New York. At first, Isabel thinks they'll be able to get by with the Locktons by working hard, but soon her nightmare begins as she learns Mrs. Lockton is both petty and vicious. When Ruth's epilepsy is revealed to a horrified Mrs. Lockton, Isabel knows that she must find a way to freedom before Ruth is sold away from her. But who can Isabel turn to when those who fight for freedom uphold slavery? A sequel is in the works and fans of historical fiction won't want to wait to find out what happens next to Isabel in this look at the American Revolution from a brand new point of view.

    Anderson includes a question and answer section at the back to address the historical aspects of her novel, particularly the plight of slaves and prisoners during the war. She does a fantastic job of capturing Isabel's spurts of hopelessness and her slow recovery - set back everytime yet another avenue of escape fails her. The characters are so rounded that they just jump off the pages - everyone is realistically flawed in ways that match their motivations. This would be great as a book discussion title or as a supplement to lessons on the American Revolution.more
    Tightly written, a strong and likable narrator, and an element of American history frequently overlooked in fiction (as it seems many war-era slavery stories are on the Civil, not Revolutionary, war). This is an absorbing story, one I'll be recommending even when we're not looking at the dreaded Historical Fiction project.

    As a note on the audio version: the reader for this is fantastic.more
    This book is truly one of a kind. It won the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction and it was a National Book Award Finalist. It is well written and very historically accurate.more
    I am definitely a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson; I've enjoyed every book of hers that I've read so far, and I just think she's a really fantastic writer. I really enjoyed her other middle grade historical fiction book (Fever 1793, which I read last year) and Chains was nominated for a National Book Award, so I definitely had to read it. And of course, it was just as fantastic as I expected it would be. Chains is the first in Laurie Halse Anderson's Seeds of America series, set in the Revolutionary War era and following the life and adventures of Isabel, a young slave girl. Isabel is sold to a household of Loyalists, the mistress of which is incredibly cruel to her and her younger sister, who is bought along with her. Isabel isn't interested in any war for independence, however, just the freedom that she and her sister had been promised when their former master died. And Isabel is willing to do whatever it takes, and work with whoever she needs to, to get it. Chains fit neatly in that spot in my heart that is reserved for really great kid lit. I have a soft spot for children's literature that is well-written and with amazing characters, and this book soars on both counts. Isabel is a character that comes alive off the page, and her resilience and ingenuity keep the story moving along the whole time. The other characters are just as memorable, and jump off the pages as well. The book was very historically accurate, and I found myself immersed in the world of Revolutionary New York City. Whether you read middle grade books or not, Chains is a great read for any historical fiction fan. I can't wait to read the second book in the series, Forge.more
    I’ve had this in my classroom library just based on the author, and finally got a chance to read it. Great historical fiction as it chronicles the life of a slave, Isabel, from Rhode Island (which was a major slave port in the early history of the US). I liked how the characters are given good dimension, as expected from Laurie Halse Anderson. Real people in real situations and not simplistic or preachy like some of this genre can be.more
    After all the hubbub I heard on this book I expected a lot more. Not to say this was a bad book, but I just thought that it could have done more. I found it a little difficult to understand the main character and her motivations. The dialogue, however, I did think was excellent. Perhaps its' best qualities are the additions it makes to the genre in regards to its setting of time and place associated with historical facts.more
    This highly readable story of a young teenage slave girl is a fast-moving, entertaining experience. I use the word “entertaining” because I simply could not put the book down. Anderson works her magic by creating a character that the reader can’t help but to cheer for. Anderson superbly paints the picture of NYC during the Revolutionary War that had me temporarily a part of the community, wondering if I needed to stop reading to run to the water pump.more
    Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is a YA novel that falls under the genre of historical fiction. This story takes place at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The main character is Isabel, who is a thirteen-year-old slave. Isabel and her sister Ruth were always promised that they would gain freedom when their owner passed away, but when their owner does it was not in writing. Isabel and Ruth are sold to the Locktons who live in New York. The Locktons do not treat them the same as their previous owner did, they treat them very poorly.After arriving in New York, Isabel meets another slave named Curzon. Curzon is dedicated to helping the Patriots. He tells Isabel that her best chance at freedom would be to spy on her owner Mr. Lockton who is a Loyalist and knows details on the British invasion. Isabel does not want to do this, but after Ruth gets separated from her she feels like she has no other choice. She begins to spy on Mr. Lockton because she feels that is her only chance of getting freedom and being able to see her sister again. She soon realizes that she can gain the loyalty of the person who can grant her freedom.This books is a great historical fiction novel. It feels like it was written in 1776 as everything was taking place. The main character Isabel keeps you interested with all the twists and turns she must face throughout the story. I feel that all ages would enjoy reading this book.more
    I love Laurie Halse Anderson's writing, and she shows how versatile she is with this book. "Chains" is a very absorbing historical fiction middle grade/young adult book. And I think making historicals for young 'uns actually worthwhile is not an easy feat.I loved Isabel, even though, sure, her character is not completely realistic. (First of all, she can read? For reals? Sorry, I don't buy it.) Though the heart of it all was to get beyond just the simple facts of Revolutionary War America and understand it from a more personal approach. I read this slowly, taking long breaks in between, because there is a lot here that is difficult and painful to read. Which, you know, is essentially the point.more
    This book is about the time when we were having the world war II.We had slavery too. It is a sad stary about a girl (I forgot her name) who was in slavery and her mothe rand owner died. In the will of the owner she said to let the girl and her sister be free.But a guy said that wasnt true. Later on she was sold to another person and was abused badly. She lost her sister because they Lady sold her to someone else. In the middle she meets this boy and he goes to the prison later because he was captured.She brakes him out and they escaped. I liked this book because it told so much about how other people feel. It makes me sad about how mean our ancestors were. Im much nicer then they are. Because all people have feelings cant they see thet.This book is really sad and I cant wait to read the second book.more
    This book was about a girl who was a slave. Her mom died when they arrived in America. The two girls owner had just died. There owner told them they would be free when she died. One of the auctioneers did not believe the two girls. The girls dad got beatened up when they arrived, so they would not be split up. The girls got sold together and there new owner is mean. There owner slaps them and does not care about them. I gave this book a rating of four. I gave it a four because it had a lot of detail in it. The author used a lot of big words. I could imagen the story very clearly. I enjoyed this book and it is one of my favorites. I recommend this book who likes a book with mystery. I read this book everytime I have a chance. When I'm bored I just take out the book and read it.more
    In the year 1776, we meet Isabel, a teenager, and her younger sister Ruth, both of whom are slaves. Their master, a kindly old woman who promised to free them, has died and her son is selling them for a tidy profit, rather than make good on those promises. The girls travel to New York with their new owners who are Loyalists, right as the Rebel forces begin the battle for independence. Isabel tries to win her freedom amid the chaos and frustration of the American Revolution. First she hopes to aid the Rebel forces by spying on her owner, but they fail to protect her and, despite fighting for freedom of their own, will not recognize her as a human being. Then she turns to the Loyalists, but they are only looking to free slaves owned by Rebels. All the while, Isabel must contend with the increasingly desperate and cruelty of her owner, Mrs. Lockton. Isabel must learn to fight for what is right, fend for herself, and creates freedom and hope out of misery and pain. Anderson, who came to prominence in young adult fiction with her award-winning book "Speak", returns to historical fiction in the first book of the Seeds of America series. Unafraid to take chances, Anderson weaves a tale that is simultaneously horrifying, thrilling, and hopeful, and it is utterly engrossing. The depiction of slaves amidst the backdrop of the American Revolution provides ample opportunity for growth and questioning of historical "fact". Teachers and students alike will appreciate the additional background material and author explanations of the true history that surrounds this fictional tale. Readers should take note that Anderson is unafraid to show us the dark underbelly of the country, as well as the sickening means by which Isabel's owners seek to control her fate. These intense themes should keep out readers under the age of 14.more
    Chains is set in New York City at the beginning of the American revolution. It is told from the perspective of Isabel, a young slave girl. Isabel and her younger sister are supposed to be set free but instead are sold to a cruel Loyalist family. In order to punish Isabel, the younger sister is sent away. In an attempt to find freedom and reunite with her sister, Isabel decides to spy for the rebels in hopes that they will help her escape the family that has enslaved her. However, even after providing critical information to the rebels, Isabel is denied the help she she seeks and adopts a stance that she will do whatever it takes and side with either group to find her sister and escape to freedom. The story ends with Isabel freeing a friend from jail and together embarking on a journey to find her sister as well as freedom. The story continues in the sequel titled Forge.Laurie Halse Anderson has created another realistic and moving piece of historical fiction. The characters are well developed and believable. The values and attitudes portrayed in the story are consistent with the time period. One example of this is the part where Isabel is denied help even though she has provided the rebels with critical information simply because she is a slave. Anderson creates vivid details of the setting and creates an affecting story that provides readers with a new perspective of the American Revolution. Suggested grade level: 5-8.more
    Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains (Seeds of America). New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. This story is a fictional tale of a young slave girl living during the Revolutionary War. She is seperated by her little sister and vows to find her at any cost. She agrees to help the Continental Army by spying for them. They promise to help her find her sister. But things get worse for her. This story shows some of the abuse slaves went through by their masters. It also shows how slaves were used to help the different armies gain the upper hand in their battles. This book is accurate in the experiences soldiers had in the prisons. Age group: 12-14 years.more
    Set in New York during the Revolutionary War, this is a story of courage and the desire for freedom. Isabel is a slave who was expecting to be freed upon her owner's death, but instead she and her little sister are sold to a couple in New York who support the English. Isabel is treated cruelly there, while her sister is treated like a pet. Rumors fly that the English soldiers will be freeing slaves, and Isabel does not know where her loyalties lie -- who will free her and help her and her sister escape? She meets Curzon, a young freed slave working with the American patriots, and he tells her that the only path to freedom lies down the dangerous path of spying for the rebellion. Will she spy on her owners and risk being beaten or sold, or will she spy on the rebels to help the British? Excellent writing that reflects thorough research of the events, attitudes and ideas of the times, with a fresh viewpoint. 7th grade and up, but a perfect fit for 8th grade with the Revolutionary War unit. My guess is that this one will be an award-winner.more
    I chose to read this piece of historical fiction for my children's literature class and really enjoyed reading it. It is set during the Revolutionary War and portrays the life of a young African American slave girl named Isabella. I felt like I knew the heart of Isabella and was internally torn as she was when she was promised freedom if she risked her life to share secrets to the patriots. Her courage and passion is so inspiring.more
    A great historical fiction book that brought tears to my eyes. Anderson just has a way with her writing that makes her stories unforgettable. Definatly one of my favorite authorsmore
    Excellent view of slavery and the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a young girl. We learn about slavery from the perspective of the Civil War, but not much is taught about slavery during the Revolutionary War, or how common it was for wealthy Northerners to own slaves. Isabel's perseverance provides a fresh and engaging story.more
    A good book, but I feel it lags in detail. But you should read it, I couldn't put it down in the end.more
    When a young girl and her sister are not freed from slavery when their nice master dies, they are moved to a mean owner. To protect her younger sister and their future, the girl begins an adventure that aids in the American Revolution.more
    This is the story of part of the American Revolutionary War from the perspective of a slave girl in New York City. It is an action packed story with many twists and turns as well as good minor characters. I am not even a Revolutionary War enthusiast, and I loved this book.more
    An excellent historical novel set in the American war of Independance. It is told by Isabel, a young slave girl who is left to look after her 5 year old sister and herself as best she can after the death of her mother and the woman who owned them. Despite being promised freedom, they remain enslaved and at the mercy of those who buy them. This is a book to make you burn with fury at the injustice of slavery. It is well-researched, but character led - although you will learn a lot about the history of the war of Independance and about slavery the information is not forced at the reader in chunks, but skilfully threaded through the story. Isabel is a great character, and her story is continued in Forge.more
    Powerful is the word to use when describing this book. Once again the author accumulated more well-deserved awards in yet another sensitively written novel that tackles a difficult subject. This is a winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction and a National Book Award finalist.Set in revolutionary war time, the story is told by Isabel, a young slave who is sold to a cruel, wealthy loyalist family.As the fires of the revolution burn, the sadness of chains and the burden of shackles is a springboard for the telling of the plight of the American slave and their need for freedom.The setting of New York City is unique and the book is filled with tidbits of a well-researched, accurate historical portrayal.Hoping for freedom, when Isabel is betrayed by the freedom fighters, her face is branded by the loyalists. When her tiny, five year old sister is sold by the loyalists, she learns the bitter truth and blatant hypocrisy of the colonists who want their freedom, but not that of the slaves whom they use and subjugate.Poignant and heartbreaking, page after page is filled with detail of the inhumanity of slavery.Highly recommended!more
    interesting look at freedom and liberty from the perspective of a slave during the American revolution.  more
    This was a fantastic read. It tells the story of a young girl who is a slave during the American War of Independence. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.more
    I need to divulge the fact that I don't typically read Middle Grade fiction but I could not pass this one up. My fascination with history, coupled with the fact that my stepdad is a huge Revolutionary War buff (he even does the Washington's Crossing reenactment every Christmas morning) and my childhood obsession to read everything ever written about slavery, made this novel a must read for me!This book did not disappoint me in any way. I felt the shackles come out and bind me to this novel immediately; I knew I couldn't put this down. What a thoroughly captivating novel with memorable characters and moments. Laurie Halse Anderson proves herself to be a masterful storyteller as she deftly weaves together an evocative fight for freedom through the eyes of Isabel, a Loyalist's slave, and the history of a nation's fight for freedom. The novel doesn't openly "tsk tsk" the nation's gross injustices on the slavery front but rather shows, through Isabel, the implications of such a practice and the glaring hypocrisy of a nation who wants to be free yet are not willing to release their slaves but want nothing more than for them to fight for their cause.At certain points I forgot I was reading a novel meant for a younger audience. The perfectly paced adventure will hook younger readers (as I saw at the LHA event) as well as adults but the impeccable writing and the complexities that lie within the heart of the story, as well as this period in history, will keep adults reading. It was fun to read this book and then converse with my Revolutionary War genius stepfather about the events that were happening in the novel only to learn even more about the particular event--e.g. the fire in New York City--not a spoiler as it is in the history books!I really appreciated Anderson's dedication to keeping the novel pretty much in line with the historical facts. I loved that she focused on the struggle between the Loyalists and the Rebels in New York City as it is an area that often gets overlooked and it really is quite compelling--as I learned further from my step dad. I found the inclusion of pieces from real documents and letters from this time period at the beginning of the chapter to be fascinating and was glad that she added them.Isabel is a character that you will find yourself remembering for a long time to come. She's strong, resilient and entirely loyal to the ones that she loves and cares for. Reading this book felt reminiscent of the feelings that I felt while reading Little House on the Prairie or Little Women as a child. I felt myself wholly transported to another time and side by side with Isabel in her fight. There were moments where I felt like Isabel wasn't quite true to the times, either because of speech or questionable actions, but for the most part I felt like she was convincingly written.The only thing I found to be irksome was the incredibly short chapters. I'd get really into the story and then I was jolted into a new chapter. However, I thought about the fact that this was written for a younger audience with a shorter attention span than mine and found that it was probably perfect for them and I just needed to deal with that minor inconvenience.My final thought: Amazing! I don't care if you don't read MG or YA books, if you like a good historical novel--pick this up! It isn't a wonder that the kids at the signing I went to were hanging on to every word that Laurie uttered and were completely enamored with this novel. It is compelling and the ending will leave you rushing out to by Forge! I think this would be an awesome novel to complement a social studies lesson on this time period.more
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