Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Chains (Seeds of America, #1)” as Want to Read:
Chains (Seeds of America, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Seeds of America #1)

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  48,846 ratings  ·  5,463 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
Paperback, 316 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (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
Sasha It's one of the best books I've read! People have different opinions, but personally there's nothing wrong or bad about it.…moreIt's one of the best books I've read! People have different opinions, but personally there's nothing wrong or bad about it.(less)
Zamira This is definitely a good book to read. It was hard to stop reading and I was always going from excited, to mad, to scared. This book is about a girl …moreThis is definitely a good book to read. It was hard to stop reading and I was always going from excited, to mad, to scared. This book is about a girl named Isabel. Isabel is a black girl and she is very intelligent and observant. Isabel was supposed to be given her freedom when her first owner dies, but was sold instead. Isabel has a sister, Ruth, and desperately wants to keep her safe. Ruth is prone to seizures and has a mental illness, although I do not know which. Isabel goes through a journey to keep herself and Ruth safe, but something occurs which makes it very hard for her to do.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  48,846 ratings  ·  5,463 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Chains (Seeds of America, #1)
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 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
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That the question was not whether, by a declaration of independence, we should make ourselves what we are not; but whether we should declare a fact which already exists. . .
--Thomas Jefferson

The author of Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson, is “descended from many soldiers who fought in the American Revolution.”

So am I. I am, literally, a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Yet. . . I know so little about it.

I have the basic facts and dates down, but it's the Civil War that has always been “my war.”
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 h
Stephanie Anze
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? And if a girl was to seek her freedom, how could she do such a foolheaded thing?"

Isabel and her little sister Ruth are promised their freedom upon the death of their owner, Mrs. Finch. Its even drawn up on paper by a lawyer but when the heir of Mrs. Finch decides to sell the girls instead without so much as trying to consider their claim, their lives take a dramatic turn. Sold to the Locktons, a crown-loyal couple, the girls are moved
Tamora Pierce
Jan 09, 2009 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! ...more
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
What a JEWEL of a novel!

Amazingly engrossing and movingly written. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you are a parent, an educator, a middle grade student or enjoy historical fiction reads, this is one you don’t want to miss out on. It’s the first of a trilogy, and the intended audience is age 10 and up. I have not read the next two novels in the series yet.

1776, the year of our Independence, Isabel and her young sister Ruth are sold as slaves to a couple from
Jun 21, 2018 marked it as not-interested
This book has sat on my shelf for literally a decade. I've never had the urge to pick it up but always had this nagging feeling that I should read it someday. Now I'm reading it and I'm just... not engaged. Am I a terrible person?

Personally I just don't think I'm a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson's writing. I couldn't get through Speak either and Wintergirls was a two-star read for me.

Oh well. I'm glad it's finally off my to-read shelf.
Jeanette (Again)
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette (Again) 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
Dec 20, 2008 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
Jan 06, 2009 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.
Nov 12, 2008 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
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
Aug 15, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-down-for-now

I really hope you all read this review because I have been seeing many people give this book an either four or five stars.

My main issue with this book as a black woman, is how uneasy I felt knowing that this book was written with a white gaze. No, I am not trying to say that people of other races shouldn't write points of views from people of color characters. What I am saying i
Linda Hart
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is 1776 and the Colonies are fighting for freedom from England. In New York a 13 year old girl, Isabel, is looking forward to her own freedom from slavery. She has witnessed her loved elderly owner sign a release from slavery for herself and her younger sister Ruth upon the lady's death. Buy when her owner dies, a distant nephew and the lady's only heir states the promised release from slavery does not exist, and claims the girls as his property.

Isabel and her sister are sold at auction whe
1776 finds the thirteen colonies in the throes of revolution, but in this rural part of Rhode Island, the war has had little effect. Old Mary Finch just died, and in her will she freed her two slaves. Teenaged Isabel looks forward to being emancipated, but wonders what will become of her and her little sister, Ruth, who is both “simple” and epileptic.

But Miss Finch’s cruel nephew has no intention of abiding by his aunt’s wishes and sells the girls to a wealthy couple from New York. The Locktons
Aug 25, 2014 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
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
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Beth Anne
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Fantastic historical fiction set leading up to and during the revolutionary war. The main character is a young enslaved girl in a Loyalist household. I loved how historical details were seamlessly woven into this exciting story. I would have been head over heels for this book as a kid and I can’t wait to get my hands on book 2. The author did a good job of keeping historical accuracy with the difficult details of how people treated slaves and captured troops. Sensitive readers could skip chapter ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this. It is so well written and really shows how unjust slavery was. The characters were very interesting, too. This is a really great story (it is also set in the same time period as Hamilton). I love all of the characters and seeing what they do next. I'm glad that I read this for book group again just because I got to read it in a new way. I definitely recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction. ...more
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
I’m a huge Laurie Halse Anderson fan and CHAINS is the first book of hers I didn’t enjoy. Giving a star rating is difficult because the book is well researched and a quality novel. I didn’t enjoy reading CHAINS and I would not have enjoyed it when I was a MG reader at age seven or eight or when I was a MG tween, which shouldn’t diminish the fact that CHAINS is an excellent, important book. I likely won’t read the other two in the series.
Valliya Rennell
1.5 stars

DNF at 33%

Look. I really wanted to like this. I've heard such great things about it! Aaaand I didn't really like it. I don't know, but sometimes, you try so so hard to like a book, but its just not your type and you have to break up. And the thing is, I'm going to be meeting the author in a month or two, so that's gonna be awkward! The story follows the two sisters Isabel and Ruth as they are taken to work as maidens for the treacherous, Loyalist family known as the Locktons. They were
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
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2008 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
Leslie Bryan
Laurie Halse Anderson really delivered in Chains. I love me some historical fiction and this one was one of my favorites. I appreciate the way Anderson approached slavery in colonial-turned-independent America for several reasons. 1) The story is based mostly in New York City, not the south. It's easy to forget that slavery was pervasive once and no region without guilt. 2) The treatment of Isabel (the main character) was accurate, yet age appropriate for the reader. 3) The setting is at the beg ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: (Poll Ballot Tally) Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson - 4 stars 1 7 Sep 15, 2020 10:01AM  
Laurie Halse Anderson 1 5 Feb 25, 2020 05:38PM  
Year 9 Favourite ...: Chains By: Laurie Halse Anderson 2 2 Oct 27, 2019 02:43AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution
  • Jefferson's Sons
  • The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life, #1)
  • Blood on the River: James Town, 1607
  • Out of My Mind
  • Esperanza Rising
  • Elijah of Buxton
  • A Voice of Her Own: The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet
  • The Winter People
  • Number the Stars
  • Black Heroes of the American Revolution
  • King George: What Was His Problem?: Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn't Tell You About the American Revolution
  • Refugee
  • Bud, Not Buddy
  • Flygirl
  • A Night Divided
  • Inside Out & Back Again
See similar books…

UPDATE! SHOUT, my memoir in verse, is out, has received 9 starred reviews, and was longlisted for the National Book Award!

For bio stuff: Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times bestselling author whose writing spans young readers, teens, and adults. Combined, her books have sold more than 8 million copies. Her new book, SHOUT, a memoir-in-verse about surviving sexual assault at the age of thirte

Other books in the series

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

Related Articles

She answers your questions about tackling tough issues in her books: anorexia in Wintergirls, assault in Speak, and now a parent with PTSD in the...
47 likes · 7 comments
“A scar is a sign of strength. . .the sign of a survivor.” 126 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.” 72 likes
More quotes…