Monday 21 February 2011

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

After reading non-fiction for a week I needed something a little lighter, so I turned to teenage fiction.  I had been wanting to read Chains ever since I read about it on Stephanie's Blog and was delighted to see that my local library hada copy.

Synopsis: Thirteen year old Isabel and her sister Ruth are slaves sold to a new mistress in revolution-era New York.  Isabel struggles to keep her hope that eventually they will be free until her owner does something incredibly cruel and the British invade and Isabel's life is turned upside down.

Score: 4 out of 5

A good indication of how much I liked this book is that I stayed up late to finish it, and I'm someone who needs lots of sleep to function.  Chains had a bit of a slow start but after one third of the way in was unputdownable.  I just had to keep on turning each page to find out what would happen next.

Chains was also a lot darker than I was expecting.  The sections when Isabel was very melancholy were quite affecting and Anderson had a talent for saying a lot in very few words.  It was definitely not a light piece of YA fluff but a deep, dark story that worked on many levels.  Anderson didn't shy away from the darker side of slavery and of human nature.

After finishing this one I'll definitely be hunting down Forge to find out what happens to Isabel next.  I'll also be keeping my eye out for Speak by the same author.


  1. I think LHA has quite the range of teen fiction. I will also tell you that Speak touches on a tough subject but address the situation but LHA uses humor in a great way that doesn't take away from the subject. It's a great read!

  2. I'm really glad that I helped you discover it and that you enjoyed it! Forge has kind of the same pacing too. I thought LHA dealed with the darker side of slavery really well, she seems to have a knack for dealing with difficult issues like in Speak, which I haven't read either. Oh, and I'm definitely a person who needs their sleep to function too LOL :)

  3. Staying up late to finish a book is indeed a great sign (suggesting how good the book was). Hurray. I personally have difficulty with books that deal with too much gloom, because - like you said - they can be "quite affecting." I feel as though I've struggled enough in my life to only want to read happy and amusing content.

  4. @Vamchoir
    Agree about staying up late - I almost never do that as I'm awful without at least 8 hours a night.

    I prefer books with a darker content, I find them more real and therefore easier to connect to.

  5. Isn't it a bummer when you stay up late reading and then have to get up in the morning early.

  6. I wouldn't necessarily hand this book to a younger YA reader without being sure they could handle some very cruel (but realistic) portrayals of slapping, beating, and at one point branding of a slave.

    Highly recommended.

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