Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 7174
A Longing to be Free
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Im not a big fan of historical fiction, but Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson may make me change my mind. Isabel is eleven and her younger sister, Ruth, is five. Their master, Madam Finch, has died and her nephew, Robert, the only heir to the estate, decides to sell Isabel and Ruth, regardless of the fact that Madam Finch has promised them their freedom upon her death. They are sold to the Locktons of New York and moved from their home in Newport, Rhode Island.

Chains takes place in New York at the dawn of the American Revolution. Told in the first person by Isabel, readers gain a deep understanding of the confusion and chaos during that particular time in the colonies. There were Rebels and Loyalists living side by side. There were pro and anti slavery contingents. There were slaves and free men.

One day, Isabel meets Curzon, a slave who works for Major Bellingham of the Colonical Army. Curzon tries to enlist Isabels aid, as Lockton is a Loyalist, and Isabel may overhear information that may benefit the Colonial Army. Isabel, while educated enough to read, is not educated enough to know the causes of the Revolution, the impact of either side winning and therefore who to set her alliance with.

Chains tells multiple tales at one time. It is the story of the Locktons, allied with the King in England, in the midst of Colonial rebels. It tells the story of Isabel, confused about who to trust, her overriding thoughts concern her freedom and caring for Ruth. It describes the goings on in New York, Loyalists, in the midst of fighting rebels, have a birthday gala for their Queen across the ocean. It describes Washingtons ragged army and the treatment of prisoners of war. There is so much going on in this highly enjoyable volume.

Chains can be read as the story of a slave girl or the story of life in the midst of the American Revolution. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the premier writers of Young Adult literature and Chains is another example of her extraordinary work. And for those of you who come to like Isabel and Curzon, a sequel called Forge is in the works.
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