Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Plot Summary: 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, are still sold to a New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

I’m not a big historical fiction fan, but I’m a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson. So when CHAINS was nominated for the National Book Award, I bumped it up on my TBR pile.

I like history, but it’s usually presented in such a dry fashion that it can’t keep my interest. Not so with CHAINS. From page one, this story had me riveted. It’s an honest account of the time of the Revolution. It doesn’t paint all the Patriots in rosy colors, nor all the Loyalists as evil monsters. They were just people with different preferences and backgrounds.

Same with the slavery. It wasn’t just in the south; it was everywhere. Not all slaves are innocent victims, and not all slave owners are vicious monsters. Anderson has built this world through the most amazing way of Showing that I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s so good that I didn’t even notice how much she was showing me the first time through. I had to go through the book again, and then I was blown away. Fantastic.

This book is amazing, and I highly recommend picking it up right now. But, I warn you, you won’t be able to put it down...

17 comments:

luos said...
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Carrie Harris said...

Oh no! You've been hit by the EXACT SAME blogspam that got me.

And it's completely made me forget what I was going to say except that I'll probably read this one now.

beth said...

This is interesting to me since I just finished Octavian Nothing--It also has the idea of slaves/freedom during the Rev. War. Hmm...I might have to check that one out.

PJ Hoover said...

Now if that's not a great review, I'm not sure what is.

Anne Spollen said...

This is how I always learned history - through stories, yet they still make kids sit there and color maps and memorize dates.

And thanks for that review - another on the TBR pile. So what's a little dust in the house, ya know?

Michele Thornton said...

Thanks for the insightful review, this one is already on my list.

Tabitha said...

Wow, my first blog spam...and such a weird spammy comment too. :)

Carrie - well, at least I know what it said now. I guess I should be careful what I wish for. :)

Beth - I've had Octavian on my TBR list forever. I think I'd better bump it up. :)

PJ - yes it is, and it's an amazing book. If you haven't read it yet, you simply must! :)

Anne - I wish I could have learned history through stories. But I had the dryest, most boring history teachers in all of the US. So now, even though I actually like history, I won't try to learn it. Sad, isn't it? As for Chains, it's well worth a little dust in the house. :) With a little wind, my house could be the source of a dust storm! I'd rather read than dust any day. :)

Michele - glad to hear it's on your list. It's a fabulous story, and the craft used to write it is amazing!! :)

Gottawrite Girl said...

As always, thanks for the book review! : ) And your spammer even has a FAKE blog!!!

Kelly said...

What age range is this geared for, Tabitha? My son's teacher wants him to expand his reading horizons to historical fiction. THough he's nine, but a mature, genius nine ;0) This sounds really good.

Marcia said...

TABITHA!!!!

We WERE reading the same book!!!!

Tabitha said...

GWG - I noticed the fake blog too. That is just too weird!! :)

Kelly - this is MG, and Isabel (the MC) is thirteen. I think a nine year old would handle this just fine. There are no gory scenes - LHA handles tough situations with the same grace as SPEAK. More so, since the readership is younger. He should do fine. If he reads it, I'd love to hear what he thinks about it! :)

Marcia - HA! I just KNEW we were! :) Well, I look forward to reading your take on it. :)

Mary Witzl said...

I've got friends who are teaching ten-year-olds and Chains sounds perfect for them, but I want it for ME! I love historical novels and even manage to get through the not-so-great ones. This one has my palms sweating -- it sounds that good. I especially appreciate the no-good-guys/no-bad-guys angle.

Bish Denham said...

This sounds right up my alley. I LOVE history, LOVE a well written historical novel (my mother always called them hysterical novels) and I've enjoyed everything I've read by Anderson. SO...Chains will be going to the top of "to read" list.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Great review - I have never read any of Laurie Halse Anderson's work, but I just picked up Fever and Catalyst at the Half-Price Bookstore. Chains sounds like a great read.

Tabitha said...

Mary - this is a fabulous book, and if you can get your hands on it you should! Both for you and for those kids. :)

Bish - then you would love this book! :) Not only is the story great, I could read it again and again just to study the craft. :)

Nora - I read CATALYST last year, and didn't enjoy it as much as SPEAK or CHAINS. I haven't read FEVER yet, but fully intend to. :) I've also got PROM on my pile. *sigh* Too many books and not enough time to read them. :)

Angela said...

I'm skipping to the end, because I haven't read this book yet and don't want to spoil it for myself. Still, I wanted to thank you because I didn't know about this one and I'm a big fan of hers, so I'll be getting it the next time I'm at the library--thanks!

Tabitha said...

Woohoo! More people reading Chains! :) You'll love it! :)