Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson reading at the 2008 National Book Award Finalists Reading
Set in New York City at the beginning of the American Revolution, Chains addresses the price of freedom both for a nation and for individuals. Isabel tells the story of her life as a slave. She was sold with her five-year-old sister to a cruel Loyalist family even though the girls were to be free upon the death of their former owner. She has hopes of finding a way to freedom and becomes a spy for the rebels, but soon realizes that it is difficult to trust anyone. She chooses to find someone to help her no matter which side he or she is on. With short chapters, each beginning with a historical quote, this fast-paced novel reveals the heartache and struggles of a country and slave fighting for freedom. The characters are well developed, and the situations are realistic. An author's note gives insight into issues surrounding the Revolutionary War and the fight for the nation's freedom even though 20 percent of its people were in chains. Well researched and affecting in its presentation, the story offers readers a fresh look at the conflict and struggle of a developing nation.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
"The inhabitants (of New York) are in general brisk and lively. . . it rather hurts the European eye to see so many slaves upon the streets. . . There are computed between twenty-six and thirty thousand inhabitants . . . the slaves makes at least a fifth part of the number.-Letter written by Patrick M'Robert, a Scotsman from New York" (pg. 26).
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson