For my second book this quarter, I chose to read Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Chains”. This book is about a girl who was a slave. I was very opposed to reading this book in the beginning. I was confused before I even read a single page. The author is, first of all, white. She has no great grandmothers and grandmothers to tell her about being enslaved. And she’s writing a book about slavery? Secondly, she was born in 1961. Almost 100 years after slavery was abolished. Honestly, what does she know about it? But, although I was skeptical, I decided to give it a try anyway. After reading the beginning of the book, I realized that this lady was pretty clever. The main character is a young, slave girl named Isabel. The first thing that I noticed about her was that she spoke perfect English. Most slaves were not taught English. It was later revealed that she was taught how to read by her previous owner. The next thing that I realized was that this book was written with a younger age group in mind. I realized this because in the beginning, both the pastor and Isabel and her sister Ruth’s new owner allowed Isabel to argue with them without much verbal or physical threat or punishment. There is no way that two grown up white men are gonna sit there and argue with a thirteen- year old black girl in 1776 America. I realize that if the author was being sensitive or whatever, but I think that it takes away from the full magnitude of how terrible and disgusting slavery really was if you fail to include the little details like not being able to stand up for yourself. Just saying. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing something that you have never experienced yourself, that’s one of the pillars of works of fiction. At least if you are gonna write about something that you have absolutely no personal connection or context to base it off of, be realistic. My favorite character was Isabel. She was clever, smart, educated, and polite. My favorite thing about her was that she seem to instantly read people. I also admired the way she took care of her little sister Ruth, who seemed to have some sort of mental condition similar to autism. One thing that I thought was interesting was the tale that Isabel’s parents told her relating to their heritage. One example was the one they told her about ghosts not being able to cross the see. Her parents used this story to explain why the spirits of their loved ones couldn’t travel with them to America. One inconsistency that I found within the story was the father. Why when he was sold, was he able to speak English. If he was from Guinea, was murdered when the family was being sold and the woman who taught Isabel, her mother, and Ruth to talk and speak English had yet to own them, why did he cry out in English. You mean to tell me that all of the people surrounding Isabel all were lucky enough to have found masters willing to teach them English? Not realistic at all whatsoever. Overall, I thought that this book was decent. I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone.
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