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An amazing book I was so cheering Isabel on 3.5 Stars #READ EPUB Ù Chains ⚢ As The Revolutionary War Begins, Thirteen Year Old Isabel Wages Her Own Fightfor 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 FreedomFrom Acclaimed Author Laurie Halse Anderson Comes This Compelling, Impeccably Researched Novel That Shows The Lengths We Can Go To Cast Off Our Chains, Both Physical And Spiritual Compact DiscsHours Halfway through Wow, this is a painful book in all the best ways I m wondering whether the story is going to manage to pull off some hope by the end, and if so, how it s going to do so without cheating So far, a powerful book, and one that s hard to put down.After finishing A disconcerting look at New York City during the Revolutionary War from the point of view of Isabel, a black girl living there, hearing talk of freedom, and being reminded over and over again by both sides that the talk isn t about freedom for her I loved this book the vivid prose that made me feel like I really was in New York in 1776 And I was struck by not the people who were cruel to Isabel though the cruelty was pretty horrible but by the many people who were sympathetic to Isabel but either wouldn t or believed they couldn t do anything about it Because much as I d like to believe otherwise, I fear that s where most of us would be, maybe even are wincing at the injustice we see, giving a smile and a few sympathetic words, coming home and blogging about it to our friends who assure us it wasn t our fault and there was nothing we could really do , and then pushing the uneasiness into the back of our minds and going on with our lives An uncomfortable thought, that, as it should be. What a TREASURE What a JEWEL of a novel Amazingly engrossing and movingly written I can t say enough good things about this book If you are a parent, an educator, a middle grade student or enjoy historical fiction reads, this is one you don t want to miss out on It s the first of a trilogy, and the intended audience is age 10 and up I have not read the next two novels in the series yet 1776, the year of our Independence, Isabel and her young sister Ruth are sold as slaves to a couple from NY after the death of their former owner Taken from their safe surroundings of a good master s house, Isabel bravely mothers and protects her little sister and vows to keep her out of harm s way New York City and its harbor are very busy This is the time when citizens are still divided in either their loyalty to the King of England or the patriotism of a free nation Isabel notices a few strange things going on at and around the Lockton household Mrs Lockton, or Madam , does not like the girls and Mr Lockton keeps holding secret meetings Are they spies Are they Tories Isabel is a brave and strong girl Thankfully she isn t all alone but secretly makes friends with Curzon, a servant boy at another house and has Mr Lockton s sister, Lady Seymour, who despite not freeing them, is looking out for them The girls endure harsh work conditions and hateful treatments that are getting worse and worseYou can t storm around here like a banshee Madam will beat you bloody Me too , she said When I woke, the barrel of a gun was stuck up underneath my chin.My toes dragged in the dirt They tried to pull my arms from my body p141 The man pushed the hot metal against my cheek It hissed and bubbled Smoke curled under my nose p148 But Isabel is a clever and courageous girl She works hard and becomes an important pawn in the cause What will she do with all the wisdom and information she gains Can she make changes for the betterment of their lives Besides the narrative, I enjoyed all the rich details presented of the markets and the people, the atmospheric portrait of a divided city, the meeting place at the well where slaves and servants stood in line for water and fellowship, the parades, the Continental and British Armies, the boarding houses, the Hessians, the foods and smells, as well as the hardships, the Tories, the secrets, the prison..all masterfully crafted to create an immersive story and plot with very well researched details Nothing feels out of place and you are right there in the streets of NY in the hustle and bustle This one will definitely stay with me I read this as a read aloud and will have fond memories of it My audience of 13 year olds was captivated too with this living history read Listed are my status updates while reading, as you can see, I really enjoyed itThis book will be a powerful vehicle for young readers to understand and emphasize with a person of color, imported and sold a slave around the time of the Revolution A provocative and inspiring read I can tell already This would make for an amazing kids movie It has Tories, loyalists and spies.along with the scenery that transports you right into the busy hustle and bustle of 1776 New York Wonderfully written Love this book Isabel is such a strong and brave girl I love, love, love this book Such a great story Tories, spies, secret plots.this book needs to be passed on and read by all kids Perfect mixture of history and fiction This is such as atmospheric read for middle grade students Experience life at the time of the Declaration of Independence through this rich novel with some beautiful characters I think it a must read No boring textbook here to transport you into this time period Must I say If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl And if a girl was to seek her freedom, how could she do such a foolheaded thing Isabel and her little sister Ruth are promised their freedom upon the death of their owner, Mrs Finch Its even drawn up on paper by a lawyer but when the heir of Mrs Finch decides to sell the girls instead without so much as trying to consider their claim, their lives take a dramatic turn Sold to the Locktons, a crown loyal couple, the girls are moved to New York As Ruth has some issues, its Isabel that does most of the heavy work When she meets Curzon, the slave boy of a patriot household, he encourages her to spy on her masters At first, Isabel is reluctant but when Madam Lockton does the inconceivable to Ruth, she decides to act Isabel wants the freedom she was promised and she will not stop until she gets it.Its been a while since I read a Laurie Halse Anderson book I read Speak a few years back so her writting style was somewhat familiar to me In Chains , Anderson tells the story of thirteen year old Isabel Having been born into slavery, she and her sister fortunately had an owner that decided to free them upon her death The nephew, though, had other ideas Instead of freedom, they were sold to a heartless couple with strong loyalists ties The American Revolution has just begun Curzon suspects that Lockton has vital information that can help the patriots defeat the loyalists Isabel just wants to take care of Ruth but then something happens that makes Isabel change her mind Heartbreaking and horrifying, this resounding narrative was eye opening Isabel has no allegiance, she is willing to aid whomever will grant freedom As the fighting progresses so does Isabel s determination Aimed at a younger audience, the descriptions of daily life for Isabel were not overly graphic but still hard to swallow While slavery and the fight for freedom are the main theme of the novel, its Isabel s resileance that stands out Will be seeking the next in the series for sure.The historical background also plays a strong role in the narrative Most books I have read about slavery are set in the South New York is the primary setting and before the revolution it was a stronghold for the British, and while its not as known or remarked about it too was a colony with slaves By 1776, one out of five people was in bondage It raises the question of how could a nation be fighting a war for freedom and liberty when they held slaves at home Its a fine line between irony and hypocrisy The loyalists sided with the crown while the patriots with freedom Slaves were pawns Promised freedom by the British, thousands of slaves fled to the loyalist side but most did menial jobs The motivation of the British in offering freedom for the slaves were twofold strengthen their army and weaken the American economy but it was not done from a moral place The good vs bad story here is quite complex as neither faction is blameless This was an angle of the American Revolution I had not really thought about and I am glad Anderson shone a spotlight on it. It s taken me forever to getting around to writing a review of this book I read it about six weeks ago I suppose this is because it s getting near universal acclaim, while I found it rather ho hum Perhaps reading all the positive reviews of this book got my expectations up too high.My main complaint is that the protagonist, Isabel, doesn t come off as a believable 18th century character to me It s the same problem I had withCatherine Called Birdya girl in that time and place may have had those thoughts, but would she have said them To people who have power over her It also seems odd that Isabel can read so well she secretly pours through Robinson Crusoe and later stumbles through Common Sense, which would, I think, require a lot of practice in the act of reading How likely is it that a slave girl raised in rural Rhode Island in the 1770s would have been given such an opportunit But Anderson gives us little information regarding Isabel s life before the Locktons, so I can only guess that her previous owner spent an unusual amount of time educating her, which seems unlikely, especially since we are told that her former owner spent her last years in dottering senility.This is just one example of how strange a character Isabel seemed to melike a 21st century girl in costume than a believable person from her time and place.To me, being able to correctly portray not just the events and details of a historical period, but its attitudes and ways of thinking is the most important aspect of historical fiction and probably the most difficult to portray It s often the gold standard by which I judge historical fiction Want examples of this, well done Check out Katherine Paterson s Lyddie in which the protagonist is forced to do backbreaking work under horrible conditions, and when her superiors treat her poorly, her reaction is to work all the harder to prove herself to them or Joan M Blos A Gathering of Days in which the protagonist concludes that it was unwise to give a homemade quilt to a starving runaway slave There, I said it Now let me just get ready to duck the rotten tomatoes . Laurie Halse Anderson always writes well My heart was in my mouth all the way Sal is wonderful and feisty, trying to find a way out of a situation that appears to have no way out My only objection is that there s a sequel and I don t have it My discovery of Laurie Halse Anderson s Chains came at the best possible time I had recently read and reviewed Steve Sheinkin s, King George, What Was His Problem , a book that looks at the stories behind the American Revolution that they don t teach you in school I enjoyed the title thoroughly, but one point had me baffled Why on earth did American slaves fight or aid the Revolution when Britain was anti slavery It just didn t make any sense It reminded me of that black character on the kids show Liberty s Kids and my husband asking, So is he insane And up until now no book written for kids, fiction or informational, has ever really addressed this question to my satisfaction Enter Laurie Halse Anderson As she says of the book, A decade ago, while researching Fever 1793, I came across facts that shocked me that Benjamin Franklin owned slaves, that twenty percent of New York City in 1776 was held in bondage, and that the Revolution was not fought for the freedom of all Americans The result of this shock is Chains, a complex but kid friendly look at the Revolutionary War through the eyes of a Loyalist s slave As Anderson says in her Author s Note at the end, you really can t look at this through good guy bad guy glasses So it is that you end up with a book that is nuanced, historically accurate within an inch of its life, and infinitely readable They were supposed to be free That was the promise that old Miss Mary Finch made to Isabel and her little sister Ruth before she died She even put it in writing, though the man who wrote it up for her departed before her death, leaving no proof Now the sisters have been sold to the Lockton household and things look bad The Locktons are Loyalists living in New York City, and soon Isabel finds that the island itself makes for an ideal prison from which escape is near impossible With the Revolutionary War beginning and England taking over the city, Isabel is torn between aiding the Colonists or the Loyalists Both sides fail to take slaves into account, using them as tools rather than people To find her own way Isabel must use her head and determine whom it is that she can trust and how to use what little power she has Each chapter begins with a quote from a real person or advertisement during this time period An Author s Note at the end provides additional details, source notes for further reading, and clarifications on tricky points.I wanted to start off here with something along the lines of Well, of course the writing is good, but maybe that s not the given I think it is Maybe you haven t read a Laurie Halse Anderson book before Or maybe you did but it was a long time ago and somehow you ve managed to conflate her in your mind with fellow revolutionary author M.T Anderson Maybe I shouldn t go about assuming that you are familiar then with her wordplay and wit then Take as one such example a moment when Isabel discovers that her mistress has done the unthinkable Anderson writes, She did not look into my eyes, did not see the lion inside She did not see the me of me, the Isabel I saw her I saw all the way down to her withered soul That s just a taste, but you get the picture Anderson accomplishes the unenviable task of having to write someone in a helpless position who can somehow remain strong in spite of the odds On top of that she fills her tale with likeable and unlikeable characters together Yet every person here, no matter how briefly they flit across the page, has a story My husband is fond of saying of people that they only want what they want In other words, everyone has their own number one prerogative in mind They re all looking out for number one What makes Isabel such a stunning protagonist and hero is that in spite of the odds and her trials, she is able to look out for other people even in the midst of her own wants and needs Anderson also knows how to write a good villain Mrs Lockton is systematic in her abuse, and perfectly created as well A two dimensional villain is something you see in children s books every day, but Anderson is clever enough to give Madam a littledepth than that She is herself abused by her husband, and one chapter begins with an unsigned Colonial Era letter that reads, Among all the species and degrees of slavery that have excited the attention of mankindthere is perhaps nonepitiable than that of the ill sooted Wife It is not an excuse for what she does to the people she owns, but at least you understand her nastiness a little better.Of course, there are some portions in this book where not a lot happens and you find yourself waiting for the next event to take place For much of the story Isabel has to remain a kind of static character When she does take matters into her own hands while in the thrall of anger, it can lead to problems So for a while she has to bide her time and you, the reader, are biding right alongside her This accounts for some of the sections in the center of the novel where we have to get a little overheard exposition to know what s going on in the state and the country Fortunately the stakes are hoisted up beautifully after that and the storyline proceeds at a bracing clip.That each chapter begins with a real life quote makes for a beautiful dichotomy On the one hand you have the Continental Congress saying, The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves, and on the other you have Isabel nearly dying on us all thanks to actual slavery These quotes become their own counter narrative Fiction is often limited by the fact that if you re writing in the first person you re only really getting one point of view Unless a character eavesdrops on others or, in the case of this book, is almost invisible to them they can t get alternative voices So when you enter in quotes from the day from the Revolutionaries, you remember all the other stories being told during this time in history Without them you wouldn t be able to place Isabel s dilemma, and the dilemma of all the New York slaves of this time period, in history Thus does Anderson give everyone a voice without sacrificing that of her main character I ve heard the faint but unmistakable cry to Replace schools reading Johnny Tremain with Chains It s quiet at the moment, but I expect the movement to gather momentum any day now Don t get me wrong, I m fond of Johnny Tremain too didn t Bart Simpson want to rename it Johnny Deformed , but I don t know that its historical accuracy and kid friendly interest level can really compete with Anderson s book Chains disproves the notion that a children s book written for the middle reader set can t have complexity and interesting characters Best of all, it s a great read Sucks you in and doesn t spit you out until the very end I look forward to the sequel as there is bound to be one and hope that this book gets into the hands of teachers everywhere as soon as possible If you read only one piece of historical fiction from 2008, read this.Ages 10 and up That the question was not whether, by a declaration of independence, we should make ourselves what we are not but whether we should declare a fact which already exists Thomas JeffersonThe author of Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, is descended from many soldiers who fought in the American Revolution So am I I am, literally, a Daughter of the American Revolution.Yet I know so little about it.I have the basic facts and dates down, but it s the Civil War that has always been my war I ve not only been nutty for Abraham Lincoln my entire life, I have always been cheered on by any story from that War that highlights the dissolution of slavery My people have always been abolitionists, and I carry the fervor of freedom for all enslaved people right on the surface of my heart.So, when I learned that my daughter s 5th grade class was undertaking this middle grades historical fiction, I became interested This story combines one slave s story within the bigger battle between the Patriots and the Loyalists, starting just a month before the new Americans officially declare their Independence.Ms Anderson does quite a brilliant job here of giving readers the opportunity to connect with Isabel, the young slave and main protagonist, to personalize a character in chains with a nation in chains.Also, the author creates a clever juxtaposition that provides much critical thinking why would a slave care to take a side in the emancipation of a people that does not include her own personal freedom This read inspired many meaningful conversations between my daughter and me and we will definitely be continuing Isabel s journey with her, in what has now become a trilogy Neither of us can resist her pursuit of freedom Everything that stands between you and freedom is the river Jordan.