April 11, 2010

Book : Chains

Well, I certainly have fallen in love with Laurie Halse Anderson during the course of this year.  Where was she when I was in high school?  (or, more importantly, what was I reading???)  Today I finished off my most recent Anderson novel, Chains.  This wonderful, emotional, thought provoking read tells the story of Isabel, a slave to a loyalist family during the American Revolution.  Written with Anderson's typical honesty and lack of sugar-coating, Isabel's story literally made my stomach turn and heart hurt.  Isabel and her little sister Ruth are sorely mistreated by their mistress, and our powerful heroine desperately seeks freedom from every avenue possible: the patriot army, her master's sensitive aunt, the british army, and, daringly, by her own pursuit.  As she learns more and more about the battle being fought across the colonies, she begins to ponder the question of, if the patriot army can seek its freedom from a tyrant, then why not she?  and why not now?

Throughout the book, Isabel is desperate to find freedom and allies herself with whomever she believes will offer her that very gift.  However, she gradually learns the both painful and liberating truth that, in the struggle against the chains binding her spirit, the only one she can trust to free her is herself.

My one criticism of Chains is the horrible, blatant cliff-hanger ending that practically stops mid thought.  I thought it was a cheap plug for the sequel, Forge, coming to shelves in the near future.  I mean, I would have read Forge anyways, but Chains's final page left me clawing for some closure, and not in a good way.
That being said, I would definitely recommend Chains to my higher reading level 5th graders--it might offer just the perspective change they need on life.

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