Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

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If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?

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.

From 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.

About Laurie Halse Anderson

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Laurie Halse Anderson is descended from many soldiers who fought in the American Revolution. While researching Forge, she walked barefoot in the snow, cooked over open fires, wrote by candlelight, split wood, and gained a new appreciation for the sacrifices made by our ancestors who were committed to the freedom of all people. She is a New York Times bestselling author of many novels and picture books. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Her books Speak and Chains were National Book Award Finalists. In 2009, Chains also received the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award given by the Young Adult Library Services Association. She lives in northern New York. Follow the author’s adventures on Twitter at
Published January 1, 2008 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 321 pages
Genres: Travel, War, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chains

Kirkus Reviews

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“ ‘Freedom and liberty’ has many meanings,” but enslaved Isabel knows that while Loyalists and Patriots battle for their own versions of freedom, she is “chained between two nations” that uphold slavery.

Sep 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Chains


Winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a National Book Award finalist, Chains is the story of Isabel, a slave girl sold north from Rhode Island to New York at the start of America's War for Independence.

Sep 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Chains

Christian Science Monitor

A new novel for young readers knocks on the conscience of a nation.

Jan 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Chains

The Bookbag

Summary: Accessible and absorbing story about Isabel, a slave in New York during the American War of Independence.

Feb 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Chains

Teen Reads

After all, this book --- which focuses on the treatment of slaves by Patriots and Loyalists during the American Revolution --- seemed to cover much of the same historical and thematic ground as a series near to my heart: M.

Jan 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Chains

Common Sense Media

Isabel is a strong, relatable character, and through her story, kids will get a sense of the incredible physical and emotional hardships of slavery ("I have no map for this life," Isabel says) -- as well as a strong understanding of the the Revolutionary War.

Oct 01 2008 | Read Full Review of Chains

WAPL Teens

When they arrive in the middle of a smoldering hotbed of sedition between the British and the American Patriots, Isabel doesn't care- all she can think about is finding the lawyer and his papers, escaping, and keeping her sister safe from their new mistress, the cruel and terrifying Madam Lockton.

Dec 26 2008 | Read Full Review of Chains

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