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Chains    by Laurie Halse Anderson order for
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Miss Mary Finch promised thirteen-year-old Isobel and her five-year-old sister Ruth their freedom at her death. She has her lawyer stipulate her intentions in her will, but when the time comes, the lawyer is in Boston and Mary Finch's nephew sells them to a wealthy New York couple, the Locktons.

The Revolutionary War is just beginning and the Locktons are Loyalists with no compassion for the Patriots. Since New York is under Patriot control, they hide their loyalties while Mr. Lockton plans to assist in the murder of George Washington.

Although she longs for the freedom Miss Finch promised them, Isobel is grateful that she and her sister are sold as a pair. At all costs she must remain with Ruth so that she can protect her. Ruth is slow witted, although agreeable and willing to do whatever task she is given.

The Locktons are cruel and when Mrs. Lockton realizes that Ruth is prone to fits she wants to sell her immediately. Her husband refuses to allow her sale. Servants are few in the wartime city. Isobel knows that Mrs. Lockton will eventually wear him down. She is offered her freedom if she will spy for the Patriots and she agrees.

This exciting novel is a finalist for The National Book Award. Anderson doesn't flinch from showing that slaves have no rights on either side of the conflict. Isobel is a gutsy and sympathetic heroine who'll steal your heart.

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