Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

chainsSet in the beginning years of the War of Independence, this book portrays the lives of slaves in the North, and raises interesting questions about how the “founding fathers,” could fight for freedom while owning other human beings.

Thirteen-year-old Isabel and her younger sister, Lucy, have been promised their freedom in their mistress’s will, but her only heir sells them to a Tory couple who live in New York. Their new mistress at first takes a liking to Lucy, but when she sees her having a seizure, she believes she is possessed and gets rid of her one night while Isabel is in a drugged sleep.

Isabel’s only friend is the slave of a Patriot, and he begs her to spy on her new owners who have political connections with important Tories. Isabel is torn about what to do but ultimately provides some useful information to the Patriots. However, their promises of assistance to her go unfulfilled, and Isabel realizes she must act on her own to find Lucy.

An excellent book, with a very good question and answer section at the end that provides historical and moral contexts.

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Filed under **** Highly Recommended, Grades 3 - 4, Grades 5 - 6

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