Now that we are 20 or so days into this new year it is time for me to let you all in on my New Year’s Resolution. Normally I don’t make resolutions, but this year I thought that I had a good idea that I have wanted to do more of anyway…so this year my resolution is to review every book I read this year on this blog.
Tonight I begin my book review odyssey with the novel Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. I picked up Chains and the sequel Forge after I read that Forge could be a Newbery contender. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but I was especially interested in this timeframe as my family visited Colonial Williamsburg over the Christmas break.
Chains is a powerful novel that is frustrating and difficult to read at times. I say this not because the story is bad, I say this because the story is just rough. The main character is Isabel a Rhode Island slave who winds up sold with her little sister to an evil New York loyalist. This is only the first in a painfully long series of setbacks and unfair, horrible events in Isabel’s life.
The setting is Manhattan at a time when only the southern tip of the island is inhabited. It’s cool to hear about places that still exist, but also to think about what is coming for that island.
Isabel finds herself in the employ of a loyalist household during the beginnings of the American Revolution. She is torn between helping the rebels…that would get her alway from the horrible family she is owned by, but she would still be a slave. Helping the English could be a ticket to freedom.
The end of the story brings the downfall of the English control of Manhattan and Isabel out her own. I think the sequel must connect to the winter of Valley Forge, but Isabel is planning on heading south to look for her sister.
I really enjoyed Chains because it is one of those books that does a good job making a historical time seem real. Laurie Halse Anderson has done a great job giving slavery in the colonial times a humanity. You feel what Isabel feels and hurt for her constantly. You also love her strength and want to see her find some peace in her life.
If you are looking for a solid historical fiction by an author who weaves a terrific tale then check out Chains.
Continue to read on,