Chains follows the life of Isabel, a young, black slave girl in 1700s America. Tensions are running high between the Americans and the British, with the former wanting their independence, something Isabel also craves. Believing she is a free girl on the death of her mistress she is distraught to discover that she is nothing more than an object to be passed from one owner to the next. Arriving in New York with the Locktons, her new and cruel owners, Isabel is soon swept up in a world of rebellion, fighting and freedom.

I started reading Chains in preparation for teaching to one of my top sets. I did pick it up when I was on holiday, but swiftly put it down as I couldn’t focus on school work. I felt as though I was reading it for ages as the start of school was a tad manic, but I finally finished it during the week and have finally gotten round to writing this post. American history is not something I know a great deal about; occasionally I read American literature and I have studied it at numerous points throughout my education, but it is not something I eagerly sort out. This is possibly one of the first books I have read set during this time period and it was certainly an interesting read and so far I have enjoyed teaching it in class and I think the students are enjoying it as well.

Isabel is quite an endearing protagonist and her trials and struggles are often heart wrenching and always unfair. Anderson creates empathy for her from the very beginning and this is maintained throughout, so the reader is always engaged and intrigued by her story. Just when you feel Isabel is getting somewhere something terrible comes around to knock her back down again, and yet she never gives up her determination and hope. So much so that we are left on a cliffhanger at the end of Chains and the story is very much set up for the next in the story. It is always fun to teach a novel that is the first in a series, especially as then I can spend a few months looking to see who has moved on to the next book. Overall it was a good read, but I am glad to return to adult books for a while.


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