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Chains (Seeds of America #1)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  20,380 ratings  ·  2,903 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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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 "
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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
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
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 have
Tamora Pierce
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!
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
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
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
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
Eva Mitnick
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
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,
Inspired Kathy
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
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?
Ellie 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
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
Lars Guthrie
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
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
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
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
On the eve of the Revolutionary war, Isabel and her little sister Ruth are poised to be emancipated. Their dying Mistress Mary promised them their freedom upon her death, but when Mary’s uncaring brother comes to settle the estate, he instead sells Isabel and Ruth to a new family in New York City. The Locktons' prove cruel owners, and Isabel faces her worst nightmare– she and 5-year old Ruth are soon separated. Isabel struggles to maintain the overwhelming responsibilities of keeping house for t ...more
Nov 25, 2008 Staci rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
This long, enjoyable book is great for all ages. Even though its very long I loved the book by its details and the life of a slave name Isable. The book Chains gets You so involed in the book that you fell like you are taking place in that time. this author explained to me how horrible and sad a slaves life was. from having a sibling sold to being in prison. this book has it all, I recommend this to all.
Laurie Halse Anderson does it again! This was a real page turner for me and it sparked my interest in a topics that I have not really chosen to read about before. This would be a great historical fiction title to use in high school history class when studying the American Revolution. Each chapter begins with a snippet from an actual letter, book, newspaper article, or advertisement that was written during the time period. Wonderful character development and story. The horrible and outrageous tre ...more
It's 1776, and Isabel and her sister, Ruth, just children, are slaves. Their master has died, and they were promised freedom. However, when slaves are property they can be bought and sold at will. When Isabel and Ruth are sent to New York with the Lockton family, who are Loyalists (Loyal to England). Isabel's name is changed to Sal, and between her own chains of slavery and the struggles with the Revolution, she is trapped in every possible way.

Laurie Halse Anderson is a brilliant writer who mak
Darla Mabary
Laurie Halse Anderson wins even more awards with this historical fiction book, Chains, covering the sensitive subject of slavery at the start of the Revolutionary War. As the country is fighting for its freedom, so is a thirteen year old slave girl, named Isabel. She is caught in the middle of the war while she secretly plots her own freedom.

In Rhode Island in 1776, Isabel and her five year old sister, Ruth, mourn the death of their master. Papers were signed for their release but the greedy nep
Brady Stevens
Dec 09, 2014 Brady Stevens added it
Shelves: 307
This book had an equivalent grading level of 4.7 and would be for students in grades 6-8. I personally would not use this book in my classroom unless I was teaching an older class that is learning about slavery and the events that occurred during that time.Being that the book is about Isabel, a black slave during the American Revolution it is full of culture. Both her and her sister were purchased how slaves used to be. They both worked for a wealthy family and did chores around the house as wor ...more
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
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This has been a crazy year!! Thanks to all of you who came out to see me on the road and for voting for The Impossible Knife of Memory for Goodreads Choice 2014 Best YA Fiction!

I'm home writing, am happy to report. Living out of a suitcase gets old in a hurry and it is SUPER hard to write books when dashing for an airplane.

I'm working on revisions to ASHES and will give you the REAL, ABSOLUTE publ
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“A scar is a sign of strength. . .the sign of a survivor.” 84 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.” 40 likes
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