When I picked up Chains, a historical fiction novel about a slave during the American Revolution, I did not expect the endearing story that awaited me. The Revolution is typically portrayed as a war battled for the freedom of the people; a truly revolutionary struggle of heroic bloodshed that a nation with redefined ideals of liberty was built upon. Thus, it was extremely intriguing when a different narrative about the Revolution was brought to light—that of a slave living in the colonies during the war.
After Mary Finch, owner of the enslaved sisters Isabel and Ruth, passed away; they were to be freed as was written in her will. However, when her money-hungry nephew Robert Finch arrives at the scene, he sells them away to Loyalists Elihu and Anne Lockton, who live in New York. Isabel and Ruth’s new owners have no disregard for their feelings, or even their existence as human beings. Treated cruelly, abused, and absolutely overworked, Isabel will do anything to grasp freedom and ensure the safety of her little sister.
Throughout the novel, Isabel meets many different people and learns lessons about freedom, power, and loyalty. These run directly against the common portrayal of the Revolution, as they reveal to readers new insights, such as the idea that maybe the two opposing sides of the war weren’t so different after all.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is a novel that dives deep into the past and explores a common narrative of a historical event from a not-so-common perspective. It is extremely well written and incorporates incredible figurative language, including the use of motifs, into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Chains, and would definitely recommend it to readers, especially those who enjoy historical fiction.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library.