Monday, December 15, 2008
I can add a fourth choice for my Newbery prediction. Laurie Halse Anderson is a tremendous writer, no doubt about it. She is at the top of her game in Chains. Many children’s historical fiction novels about slavery take place in the South during the Civil War, and there are very few historical fiction novels, period, set in New York during the Revolutionary War. Anderson has captured this unique and little known era in this outstanding book, and has created one of the most unforgettable characters in modern young adult literature. Isabel is sold to a cruel couple, separated from her five year old sister, and publicly branded, yet she remains brave and steadfast, both in her everyday survival and in her work as a spy (her masters are Loyalists). Anderson creates an amazing intertwined world of unimaginable hardship, extraordinary luxury, and frighteningly uncertain times. This is unlike any Revolutionary War novel I’ve read, for it fully explores the world of the Loyalists and truly brings across the danger and daring work of the Revolutionists. Anderson also brilliantly evokes the interaction between (white) indentured servants and (black) slaves, which makes for fascinating reading.
As much as I loved My One Hundred Adventures, I must say that I would be just as thrilled if Chains won. It is so wonderful. Luckily, Anderson has promised us a sequel (unfortunately, you’ll want to read it as soon as you finish the final page!).