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Chains (Seeds of America #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  27,295 Ratings  ·  3,549 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
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published October 21st 2008 by Atheneum
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Chris Hey Gianni,
what about this book are you not liking? I'd like to hear opinions from people in class, good or bad. That is the nice thing about reading…more
Hey Gianni,
what about this book are you not liking? I'd like to hear opinions from people in class, good or bad. That is the nice thing about reading a common book, we can all have our own opinions and we are free to express them (appropriately) in class.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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 "
Oct 02, 2008 Betsy rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2009 Janni added it
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
Jan 06, 2009 Kaye rated it really liked it
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.
Brooke Shirts
Dec 12, 2008 Brooke Shirts rated it liked it
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Jan 04, 2009 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it it was amazing
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 10, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing
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
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 02, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it
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
Feb 21, 2010 Donalyn rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 11, 2014 Rob rated it really liked it
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
Inspired Kathy
Sep 07, 2012 Inspired Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
If you like historical fiction then Chains is likely right up your alley. I thought this was a young adult novel but it was aimed at a younger audience. It would be an appropriate middle grade read for grades 5-8, but was so well written it could easily appeal to teens and adults as well.

Chains is set at the start of the Revolutionary War. I'm no history expert but this felt like it was an accurate account of what life was like at that time period. My daughter has to read several historical fict
Nov 02, 2008 Ken rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2008, ya
A real writer's writer, Laurie Halse Anderson struts her stuff in the historical fiction aisle as she serves up the story of two young black sisters promised their freedom upon their Rhode Island mistress' deat; instead the young girls get sold to an unscrupulous Tory couple living in that 1776 hotbed of British sympathizers, New York City. Characterization and writing style carry the day in this novel, and it more than compensates for a plot which, like its principal, young Isabel, is bound by ...more
Eva Mitnick
Oct 03, 2008 Eva Mitnick rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2008 Staci rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 20, 2010 Thomas rated it really liked it
Chains was a wonderful book by Laurie Halse Anderson - sad and filled with sorrow, but hopeful at the same time. It's historical fiction, which usually consists of deterring facts, but Anderson writes extremely well and keeps the characters compelling.

The story centers around Isabel, who was promised freedom alongside her sister but by a cruel twist of fate ended up being sold again. She works for an inhumane Tory family, of whom the headmistress is especially evil. Isabel is inspirited though,
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
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?
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
Elizabeth Wig
This book is heartbreaking at times but also exciting, and I was amazed by Isabel's bravery with all she has to go through. She navigates jails, city streets during historical battles and fires, and the homes of cruel and kind masters.

This book presents the enormous irony in the founding of the US, supposedly based on liberty and equality, but with slavery and inequality still rampant.

An interesting book with a strong voice and unique perspective of a slave in New York during the American Revo
Barb Middleton
Jan 14, 2014 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it
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
Jun 07, 2015 Catherine rated it it was amazing
I listened to Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson and was entranced with the storyline and character development. The book is told from the perspective of a recently sold slave who now works for a Loyalist in New York City. The main character is protective of her younger sister and does everything to make sure her sister not affected by the raising tension between the Loyalists and Patriots. The main character also goes to extreme measures to take care of her friend Curzon, who was falsely accused o ...more
Mar 04, 2012 Jianne rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-books
Chains is the first book of Laurie Halse Anderson that I've read. And I have read great things about Halse Anderson, so was it right for me to expect a lot from her? Of course. It was.

I'm not going to say that Chains disappointed me because it is a historical fiction book and I don't have a thing for historical fiction books except two exceptions (The Young Samurai Series by Chris Bradford and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak) but other than those books the other historical fiction books that I've
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
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
Marika Gillis
Chains tells the story of a young slave girl, Isabel, and her little sister, Ruth, who are sold to a rich Loyalist couple living in New York during the Revolutionary War. Lady Lockton is cruel-hearted and unkind, even striking Isabel at times. When another young slave, Curzon, asks Isabel to spy on her new masters in order to retrieve information that could aid the Patriots in gaining independence, Isabel recognizes the danger it would put her and Ruth in and immediately refuses. However, Isabel ...more
Lars Guthrie
Jan 30, 2009 Lars Guthrie rated it liked it
Perhaps I can't be fair in my evaluation of 'Chains' because it pales in comparison to the two volumes of 'The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,' another piece of young adult fiction by M.T. Anderson, which I recently completed. That work is extraordinary. Both Andersons (no relation, I think) touch on the same themes: African-American history, slavery, the Revolutionary War. 'Chains' doesn't really get rolling, though, until a violent act occurs halfway through the novel. Too much stage set ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Julie M. Prince for

Laurie Halse Anderson tells the amazing story of a slave girl during the American Revolution.

Isabel is actually supposed to be free, since that's what her deceased owner willed, but a greedy nephew takes it upon himself to keep Isabel and her younger sister, Ruth, enslaved for his own profit. With no parents, and no one to care about their fate, the girls are shipped off to New York to live with new owners.

Aside from Isabel's plight, this book al
How many times can one person be betrayed? Within the pages of Chains, Isabel finds out. It is 1776 and the American people have begun their long fight for freedom just as Isabel begins the fight for hers - for Isabel is a slave. Meant to be freed on the death of her Rhode Island owner, Isabel and her epileptic younger sister Ruth are instead unscrupulously sold by their previous owner's nephew to Loyalists, the Locktons from New York. At first, Isabel thinks they'll be able to get by with the L ...more
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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
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Other Books in the Series

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

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“A scar is a sign of strength. . .the sign of a survivor.” 95 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.” 46 likes
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