Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Retro Tuesday: Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson, reviewed by Miss Ami

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.

Okay, not really retro, since it was published in 2008. Out long enough, however, that we SHOULD be checking out the promised sequel, Forge, by now. It looks like we will have to wait until October of 2010, unfortunately. Two years??? Come on, woman, enough with the Vet Volunteers, Sal has been stuck on that icy river long enough!

Sorry, put that down to pregnancy hormones. Or the fact that I just spent 300 pages engrossed in the lives of these very real characters, and now I have to wait to find out what happens to them.

"Real" is an excellent way to describe the entire book: with as much historical fiction as there is out there about the American Revolution, I don't think I've seen too many set in New York, which gives it a fresh angle. The best part, however, is the characters. They are all allowed to be real people, neither all good nor all bad. Decisions of which side to be on are not always made simply, and not always for the most altruistic motives. The Patriots are not always portrayed as saints, nor the British as evil, and the way both sides treated - and took advantage of - slaves and former slaves is not glossed over.

After you read this one, and while you are waiting for Forge, check out Anderson's blog, which we just added to the ones we follow. Somehow, even though I was terribly shy myself at one time, it always comes as a shock to hear the authors of such fantastic books declare themselves introverts! It always seems like they should have a personality as strong and forceful as their work.


  1. I love your blog name... I don't know much about turtles but I don't help them across roads here in Alabama... If it's the road I live on I'll just go to the other side and let them continue at their speed but if it is on the main highway... I pull over and get them to the side they want to be on... even snapping turtles that curse at me the enitre time.

  2. okay need to edit before I hit enter... I do help not don't help, sorry for the double post but when I read that I thought... this person is going to think I hunt down turtles with my van

  3. On behalf of our Texas cousins, we thank you! Yes, those snappers can be Grumpy Gusses. We mostly stay away from them (especially the front ends!)