In Chains, Isabel Gardener is a 13 slave, sold with her 5 year old sister to a merciless couple in New York, the Locktons. She is a headstrong girl, intent on protecting her sister, Ruth, and persevering through disturbing circumstances with bravery and a deep stoicism that sees her though.
The Revolutionary War is the other star of this book, told from a young girl’s perspective as it begins to brew in New York. The seemingly authentic details show the weaknesses of both the Tories and the Patriots. Ruth in the end aids the Patriots by spying on her loyalist owners at the bidding of a winsome slave boy Curzon, who befriends her.
The story is compelling and fast paced. The characters rich and complex. The historical context an intriguing look at the dark side of war. I would recommend this book for kids age 10 or over. It’s worth reading with your child to talk through the horrors of slavery and the consequences of war. I loved this book and the sequel to follows…
The the second book of the series, Forge, Curzon and Isabel escape New York go their separate ways. He finds himself a soldier in the patriot army under General Washington at Valley Forge. But eventually his pervious owner finds him there and enslaves him once more, nearby in a house inhabited by patriot officers. Isabel, as it turns out, it also serving in this same house.
This book is a human look at the suffering and persistence of the thousands of soldiers who passed the brutal winter at Valley Forge. The little band of comrades housed with Curzon, use their wits and humor to survive. And with the move to the big house, Curzon is exposed to an officers participation in the war. There are conspiracies and intrigues and an exciting ending that leaves you waiting for the third book in the series, due out in February.
These books are peopled with characters you truly care for and admire, in spite of their failures. They give a authentic looks at life in the 18th century that is accessible to young readers. The stories are involving and pull you along with every turn of the page. These seem perfect for introducing young readers to historical fiction.