Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

I recommend this book for: middle school and up

Isabel and her little sister Ruth are slaves in the colony of Rhode Island. Their mother is dead and they were separated from their father years ago, but the lady who owns them has promised to free them in her will. Only when she dies the will is nowhere to be found, so her nephew sells them to the Locktons, a Loyalist couple from New York City. Their liberty has been taken away, to be replaced by hard work and cruelty with no end in sight. In New York, Isabel meets Curzon, the young slave of a Patriot. He offers her the dangerous opportunity to spy on her master and help the rebels gain their independence.

This was a very good book - to be expected from this author. Isabel's story is heartbreaking but hopeful in the end. It asks some very good questions that occur to most young people as they study history, such as "How could the Americans own slaves if they said all men were created equal?" Of course, there are no easy answers, but the exploration is worthwhile.