Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Chains” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Laurie Halse Anderson
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Chains (Seeds of America #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  31,672 Ratings  ·  3,990 Reviews
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
319 pages
Published 2011 by Galaxy Plus (first published October 21st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Chains, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Mrs. Mento I know everyone has their own opinion. I think this book is wonderful. Are you being forced to read it. Most readers prefer to select their own books.…moreI know everyone has their own opinion. I think this book is wonderful. Are you being forced to read it. Most readers prefer to select their own books. You might want to try it again later on your own. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Award-winning YA Historical fiction that provides unique view of the beginning of the American Revolution through the eyes of a young slave...

Laurie Halse Anderson has crafted quite an intriguing story of the early days of the American Revolution, set mainly in New York, with the story told by thirteen year-old Isabel, a young slave. She is seeking freedom for herself and her five year-old sister, Ruth.

The story begins with the death of Isabel's mistress, which should have provided Isabel and
oh, i like l.h.a. much better when she is writing historical fiction than when she is writing her girls-with-problems books. not that this girl doesn't have problems - she is a slave which trumps anorexia as far as problems go**, but overall isabel is a more winsome character than les autres, one that you actually would like to see successful at the end of it all.

however, since this is the FIRST book of some larger undertaking (which they do NOT tell you on the cover, thanks) no one knows when "
Sep 12, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My discovery of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains came at the best possible time. I had recently read and reviewed Steve Sheinkin’s, King George, What Was His Problem?, a book that looks at the stories behind the American Revolution that they don’t teach you in school. I enjoyed the title thoroughly, but one point had me baffled. Why on earth did American slaves fight or aid the Revolution when Britain was anti-slavery? It just didn’t make any sense. It reminded me of that black character on the k ...more
Lindsey Rey
[3.5 Stars]
Halfway through: Wow, this is a painful book (in all the best ways). I'm wondering whether the story is going to manage to pull off some hope by the end, and if so, how it's going to do so without cheating. So far, a powerful book, and one that's hard to put down.

After finishing: A disconcerting look at New York City during the Revolutionary War from the point of view of Isabel, a black girl living there, hearing talk of freedom, and being reminded over and over again by both sides that the talk
Brooke Shirts
It's taken me forever to getting around to writing a review of this book -- I read it about six weeks ago. I suppose this is because it's getting near-universal acclaim, while I found it rather ho-hum. Perhaps reading all the positive reviews of this book got my expectations up too high.

My main complaint is that the protagonist, Isabel, doesn't come off as a believable 18th-century character to me. It's the same problem I had with Catherine Called Birdy -- a girl in that time and place may hav
Jan 06, 2009 Kaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youngadult
When their former owner dies, two girls should be free. The heir, however, decides to sell them to a cruel Loyalist couple in New York. There, Isobel (the older and responsible sister) struggles to protect her younger epileptic sister. This book does a good job of explaining the confusion surrounding slavery during the American Revolution, and ties historical events to a character that we grow to care about.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Nov 19, 2008 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: Kristine B
Just a thoroughly enjoyable read. Young adults are the target audience, but the only way you can tell is that there is perhaps a narrower focus than you might find in an adult book. Thirteen-year-old Isabel tells her story from her limited situation, but brings in important events taking place in the larger arena at the start of our Revolutionary War.

This is a very well-told, well-researched story that just flows so nicely. There's a lot of skillful descriptive writing that made me put down the
Tamora Pierce
Jan 09, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-yr, historical
Laurie Halse Anderson always writes well. My heart was in my mouth all the way. Sal is wonderful and feisty, trying to find a way out of a situation that appears to have no way out. My only objection is that there's a sequel and I don't have it!
Dec 20, 2008 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 12-14, historical
Caveat: I don't like historical fiction, generally. Have I said that before? Anyway this book is a perfect example of why. I felt like the story was structured around the research, rather than rising organically from something. I felt like there were cool historical facts she wanted to impart, and she structured the story around the facts. The chapter headings, which are primary source quotes from history, only exaggerated this fact. And even with short chapters, which I usually love, it took me ...more
Nov 12, 2008 Donalyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During the Revolutionary War, while Patriots fought for freedom from British tyranny, the enslavement of African captives continued on both sides. Laurie Halse Anderson provides another perspective on the war, told through the experiences of Isabel, a black slave in a Tory household, who is used as a pawn to spy for the rebels, who promise to help her gain her freedom.

I thought this book provided a new lens for looking at the Revolutionary War (and slavery) and I look forward to passing this boo
Laurie Halse Anderson is such a diversely talented writer. She not only can craft beautiful narratives filled with great characters, but she can deftly weave in historical facts as well. So often in historical fiction the author tries to shoehorn in historical facts in what feels like a desperate attempt to prove that they have done exhaustive research and don't want any of it to go to waste. Anderson's novel is brimming with historical facts, but rarely do they feel out of place.

Anderson's stor
Aug 25, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-lit
4.5 stars.

Maybe it's the childhood trauma caused by being forced to read Johnny Tremain and My Brother Sam Is Dead but my overzealous parents, but I've never been interested – at all, not even a little – in books set during the American Revolution. I don't have anything against the actual time period, but novels? Not so much. But leave it to Laurie Halse Anderson, author of two of my favorite Young Adult novels, to change all that.

I'm on record as stating that Anderson's Speak and Wintergirls ar
Morgan F
Laurie Halse Anderson is the bees knees. I love her. Every single novel of hers that I've read is powerful and well-well written. Her historical fiction books are no different.

This book is about 13 yr old Isabel, who is a slave during the time of the American Revolution. Following her mistress's death, she and her 5 year old sister, Ruth, are wrongfully sold to the Locktons. The Locktons are an influential Tory family living in New York city, which is divided amongst the Patriots and those stil
Hannah Rodriguez
I want to give it 3.5 stars but I can't.
It was a good look into the life of a younger slave

I laughed when the mistresses fake eyebrow fell into the trice pudding. I laughed way too hard.

For a middle grade book, it was what you would expect. But it's not something I would go gushing about everywhere and yell in people's faces for them to read it.
Jan 28, 2017 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“She cannot chain my soul.”

Award-winning young reader account of the plight of slaves in colonial North America. Being in Rhode Island or New York was no protection in 1776. Isabel was probably more articulate in her feelings, but those emotions ring true. Honest look at the errors and hypocrisy of both sides.

“It mattered not. My bones were hollow and my brainpan empty.”

Anderson skillfully wove historic facts--battles, destruction of the king’s statue, the fire, Hessians--into plausible descript
Eva Mitnick
Oct 03, 2008 Eva Mitnick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Freedom is snatched away from 13-year-old Isabel and her 5-year-old sister Ruth before they have a chance to experience it – after their gentle owner Miss Finch dies, having filled out paperwork with a lawyer to set the girls free, her nephew simply sells them off to the Locktons, a Loyalist couple who live in New York City. As it is 1776, this puts Isabel right in the middle of the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Madam Lockton, a nasty piece of work, mistreats Isobel and gives her endless wo
Abigail Geesey
The good:
The author has a good writing style that is simple and pleasant for a grade schooler to read. Many may really enjoy the character of Isabel who is a strong a determined character. There is a clear definition of good and bad and the historical actions line up very well with actual history. The story is a 'spy' story that many modern readers will find interesting if they do not enjoy historical novels.

The bad:

I would like to point out the majority of the bad in this section is my opinio
Sep 25, 2008 Staci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone!!
This book was so many things; riveting, thought-provoking, horrifying, hopeful, joyous. I want to thank Laurie Halse Anderson for writing about a time period that I "thought" I knew about. Her book clearly shows me that I have much to learn. The story is based around Isabel, a young slave girl, who is sold to a very cruel Tory family. Everything takes place in New York. You will find yourself crying one minute and then totally outraged the next. If you enjoy historical fiction then I believe you ...more
Once I got into this story it was very compelling. The story is set in New York City during the American Revolution and told by a 13-year-old enslaved African American girl, Isabel. Her owners are Tories, and Isabel's own allegiances are tied to whoever will give her freedom. There were a lot of action and events that kept me captivated. The audiobook narration was top notch. Chains is the first in the Seeds of America trilogy. Written for younger readers, it brings this period in history to lif ...more
Nov 19, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book turned out to be really interesting, it focuses on a young girl name Isabel that was born to become a slave with her entire family. Her mother soon passes away and she is left with her sister, Ruth. Sold to a family with cruelty, it is up to Isabel to learn how to save herself and her loving sister, Ruth. Should she just run off with her sister or listen to a young boy and become a spy in the house, revealing the hidden secrets about her master's life?
Scott Fillner
May 25, 2016 Scott Fillner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing story, and what an even more amazing female lead protagonist! Cannot wait to read Forge next!
Barb Middleton
I never paid much attention to epigraphs in books. I liked them as much as epitaphs. Just kidding. I always have to look up "epigraphs" because the definition of "epitaph" has been in my "brainpan" longer than "epigraph." Never mind. I'll leave the wordplay up to Laurie Halse Anderson who is much better at it than me. (Brainpan is one o her many fun words.) Her beautiful writing swims with in-depth characterizations and historical details that bring this story to life - not to mention that the e ...more
Joan Curtis
Jan 17, 2017 Joan Curtis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Some books just blow you away. Laurie Halse Anderson did that in her trilogy beginning with Chains. A National Book Award finalist this book deserves all its awards.

In a time like today when we face the possible repression of our people, it behooves us to examine history. So many of us believe our founding fathers were good people. We believe what they said and did was sacrosanct. We've honor them and set them up as near dieties. But, in reality they were people. Full of flaws, just like us. Had
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl?
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Sisters Ruth and Isabel are slaves who were promised freedom upon their owner’s death but who have their chance of freedom cruelly snatched away at the last moment. Sold to a British-sympathising couple in New York, the two girls fight for their own freedom against the backdrop of the American War of Independence.

As part of my degree, I learned about the American War of Independence only as part of a larger module on British and European colonial history (so 1492 to 1975). As a standalone subjec
Feb 13, 2017 Evelyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evelyn by: Alex
Great story. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, and I can't wait to start the 2nd book.
Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
Check out the whole post on the blog to see an incredible video that a kid made after reading this book! http://perpetualpageturner.blogspot.c...

4.5 stars! (Grr Goodreads..I really wish you had half stars so I wouldn't have to be corny and write that whenever I read a book that doesn't fit neatly on your scale)

I need to divulge the fact that I don't typically read Middle Grade fiction but I could not pass this one up. My fascination with history coupled with the fact that my stepdad is a huge Re
Set during the Revolutionary War, thirteen year old Isabel seeks to find freedom for her and her younger sister, Ruth. After their mistress dies, instead of receiving the freedom promised to her, they are sold to the Locktons, a cruel Loyalist couple living in New York. The tension between the rebel colonists and those loyal to the king presents Isabel with an opportunity: spying on the Locktons could save her and Ruth. As the battle for independence heats up, Isabel's resolve gets stronger. She ...more
Karyshma Khan
Book review

"She cannot chain my soul. Yes, she could hurt me. She'd already done so. But what was one more beating? A flogging, even? I would bleed, or not. Scar, or not. Live, or not... she could not hurt my soul, not unless I gave it to her." (Anderson 246, 247)
Chains is about a thirteen- year- old slave named Isabel and her fight for freedom during the American revolution. After the death of her owner, Isabel and her little sister, Ruth, are sold to the Locktons, a couple in New York who cons
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Historical Fiction 1 4 Nov 21, 2016 03:32PM  
Future Teachers, ...: Jazmine Kelly Review 2 2 6 Sep 30, 2016 12:32PM  
  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
  • The River Between Us
  • The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River, #1)
  • The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
  • Flygirl
  • Hattie Big Sky (Hattie, #1)
  • The Kingdom on the Waves (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, #2)
  • Day of Tears
  • Elijah of Buxton
  • Letting Swift River Go
  • Jefferson's Sons
  • Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
  • Zora and Me
  • One Crazy Summer (Gaither Sisters, #1)
  • Countdown (The Sixties Trilogy, #1)
  • The Green Glass Sea (Green Glass #1)
  • Ninth Ward
  • Shooting the Moon

Ask box is open, my friends! What do you want to know?


The final book in my thrilling historical trilogy about the American Revolution, ASHES, will be published October 4, 2016!

I recently answered all kinds of great questions over at Reddit. Check it out for loads about my writing process and my books:

For bio stuff: Laurie Halse Anderson is the New Yor
More about Laurie Halse Anderson...

Other Books in the Series

Seeds of America (3 books)
  • Forge (Seeds of America, #2)
  • Ashes (Seeds of America, #3)

Share This Book

“A scar is a sign of strength. . .the sign of a survivor.” 101 likes
“She cannot chain my soul. Yes, she could hurt me. She'd already done so...I would bleed, or not. Scar, or not. Live, or not. But she could not hurt my soul, not unless I gave it to her.” 56 likes
More quotes…