Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Finally a book that I could not put down! I have not been very excited about very books published in 2008, but this one was fantastic. It's set during 1776 when patriots and loyalists were fighting it out over liberty. But we forget that many people in the colonies were slaves and neither side was talking about truly giving freedom to all people. Isobel and her sister Ruth are supposed to gain their freedom when their mistress dies but instead they are sold to a New York couple loyal to the King of England. They are transported to New York City, forced to work extremely hard, and treated poorly by their new owners. This is Isobel's story as she struggles to find a way out of slavery while all around her soldiers are preparing for war and her only friend is imprisoned and near death. When her sister, Ruth, is taken from her she loses hope but later regains it. Isobel is a determined, believable character and her situation is both heartbreaking and hopeful. The horrors of slavery are not glossed over, and there's lots of history here, so I think it will be most appreciated by readers seventh grade and up through adults. Social studies teachers should definitely read this one.