Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

    • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
    • Published October 2008
    • Other works by author include Catalyst, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Twisted, Prom, and several volumes of the Vet Volunteers series (veterinary, not veterans). She generally writes Young Adult books.

    • This is volume 1 of a book series called Seeds of America.
    • The main character and first person narrator is Isabel, a 13-year-old in 1776 America. She and her mentally challenged and epileptic 5-year-old sister Ruth are slaves of a Rhode Island owner who plans to free them at her death but the owner's inheriting nephew refuses to honor the agreement and sells them instead to a couple in New York City.
    • The new mistress is harsh and cruel. Once Ruth has an epileptic fit the cruel woman drugs Isabel and steals Ruth away to sell her to someone else.
    • The owners are also Tories, loyal to the King of England. Isabel meets Curzon, a boy slave who works for a Mr. Bellingham on the Rebel side. He encourages her to spy on her owners.
    • Isabel wants to run away and search for Ruth. Meanwhile the Revolutionary War is raging all around as first the rebels and then the loyalists occupy New York.

    • I really liked this book and look forward to learning about more of Isabel's story.
    • Each chapter begins with a quote from various contemporary sources, for example, a letter or diary entry, a slave sale notice or the Declaration of Independence. Isabel and her owners are fictional but the things that happen to her are similar to things that happened to real slave girls of the era.
    • This series seems to be aimed at readers about junior high age and that's fine but the second book didn't come out until 2011 and the 3rd book came out this month. That's a lot of time between volumes.
    • The next two books (Forge and Ashes) are waiting in my current library pile so stay tuned for more.
    • Recommended for readers who enjoy history about the American Revolutionary War, especially as related to (fictional) slave narratives.