Thursday, May 27, 2010


This is my Laurie Halse Anderson year, yet I was hesitant to read Chains so quickly on the heels of Fever 1793. I thought maybe I would wait and read Twisted first, but how could I deny Chains, which has one of the best covers around? I didn’t need to fret that I wouldn’t get my dose of ‘crazy teen’. This book is not about a girl who goes mad because of her parents’ divorce or getting into college, but rather because she constantly loses everything she loves.

Isabel and her younger sister Ruth are slaves in New York City, owned by a wicked couple, loyal to King George. I've never read a story about a slave in the north and learned about life during the Revolutionary War in the north. Anderson does thorough work explaining that there aren't really any "good guys" during the war, just people looking our for their own interests, at the expense of the unnoticed like slaves and soldierwives.

Isabel uses the image of bees to express her unsettled state of mind. Anderson’s word choice is gorgeous: “The bees in my head fell silent and hugged their wings tight to their bodies.” There are lines that made me want to underline so that everyone who reads the book after me will stand at attention like I did: “She did not look into my eyes, did not see the lion inside. She did not see the me of me, the Isabel.”

The first third of the book was a bit slow, but the end was a page-turner, leaving me wanting more. Luckily, the sequel, Forge, will be out in October. I'm eager to learn what happens next to Isabel.

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