Book Review for Chains

Title: Chains
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Year Published: 2008
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction for ages 10 and up
Format: Listened to as an audiobook from
Rating: ****

In the spring of 1776, a twelve-year-old Rhode Island slave named Isabel is making plans for her new life as a free person.  Shortly before her death, Isabel’s master, Miss Mary Finch, granted Isabel and her sister’s freedom in her will. Those dreams of freedom are destroyed though when Miss Mary’s son refuses to honor the will and instead sells Isabel and her five-year-old sister to a haughty loyalist couple in New York. 

Now Isabel is thrust into the middle of the increasingly heated tensions between the rebels and the loyalists in the New York Colony. She meets a friendly slave named Curzon who is sure the rebels are a slave’s ticket to freedom and wants Isabel to help by spying on her loyalist masters.  Isabel isn’t sure what to do. The rebels are fighting for white men to be free, but would they fight for a slave girl’s freedom too?

While reading Chains I felt like I’d been transported into the start of the American Revolution with all the sights, smells, and emotions of the time.  Isabel is a smart likable character and her point of view and insight is one that isn’t usually voiced in Revolutionary War stories.  Chains would make an excellent choice for family or classroom reading since teachers and parents will enjoy Isabel’s story as much as their elementary and middle school aged children.

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