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Middle Grade Review: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Chains

AuthorLaurie Halse Anderson

Year Published: 2010

Category: Middle Grade fiction (historical)
Pages: 316
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2021 Google Reading map) USA (RI, NY)

Summary (from Amazon): 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.

Review: I read another book that has been on my TBR list FOREVER! I love Halse Anderson's books, but somehow never got around to reading this one when it came out and then I got distracted by other books. I think it might be because colonial US history really isn't my thing. But, I really liked this book and how it combined the history of enslaved people in New England (most of us think of the southern states) and the loyalists (to the King of England) versus the Patriots (rebels who wanted independence).

This is actually the first book in a trilogy and I think middle grade students would really like it. The ending really leaves you hanging, knowing that there is another story coming and I could see students going to their library's shelves right away to pick up the next installment, Forge, to see what happens to Isabel.

What I think I liked best about this is that the story covers aspects of enslavement and the American War of Independence that isn't usually covered. There's social and culturally history as well as a bit of political, which means this book will appeal to lots of different students. And they will have a better sense of what life was like in 1776 New York and the eastern seaboard.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Children's historical fiction--American Revolution (1770s)
  • Diversity--Black characters
  • Historical fiction
  • Literary Escapes--Rhode Island
  • Popsugar--on my TBR shelf the longest

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