Laurie Halse Anderson – Chains (1e recensie)

Isabel and her sister, Ruth, are slaves. Sold from one owner to the next, they arrive in New York as the Americans are fighting for their independence, and the English are struggling to maintain control. Soon Isabel is struggling too. Struggling to keep herself and her sister safe in a world in which they have no control.

Schrijver: Laurie Halse Anderson
Titel: Chains
Serie: Chains #1
Uitgeverij: Simon & Schuster (VS)
Jaartal: 2010
Bladzijden: 316
ISBN: 9780747598060
Genre: geschiedenis, sociaal/politiek verhaal
Leeftijd: 15+
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Het verhaal in het kort

The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up. That’s when they can hear us true, Momma said. That’s when ghosts can answer us.
The eastern sky was peach colored, but a handful of lazy stars still blinked in the west. It was almost time.
“May I run ahead, sir?” I asked.
Pastor Weeks sat at the front of his squeaky wagon with Old Ben next to him, the mules’ reins loose in his hands. The pine cofin that held Miss Mary Finch – wearing her best dress, with her hair washed clean and combed – bounced in the back when the wagon wheels hit a rut. My sister, Ruth, sat next to the coffin. Ruth was too big to carry, plus the pastor knew about her peculiar manner of being, so it was the wagon for her and the road for me.
Old Ben looked to the east and gave me a little nod. He knew a few things about ghosts, too.
Pastor Weeks turned around to talk to Mr. Robert Finch, who rode his horse a few lengths behind the wagon.
“The child wants to run ahead,” Pastor explained to him. “She has kin buried there. Do you give leave for a quick visit?”
Mr. Robert’s mouth tightened like a rope pulled taut. He had showed up a few weeks earlier to visit Miss Mary Finch, his aunt and only living relation. He looked around her tidy farm, listened to her ragged, wet cough, and moved in. Miss Mary wasn’t even cold on her deathbed when he helped himself to the coins in her strongbox. He hurried along her burying, too, most improper. He didn’t care that the neighbors would want to come around with cakes and platters of cold meat, and drink ale to the rememory of Miss Mary Finch of Tew, Rhode Island. He had to get on with things, he said. (blz. 4 van 260)

Isabel en haar zusje Ruth hebben niemand meer. Hun moeder is al een tijdje dood en sinds kort is ook Miss Mary Finch dood. Isabel en Ruth waren haar slaven. De begrafenis is net geweest. Isabel heeft een vraag voor de dominee.

‘Pardon me, Pastor Weeks, sir,” I said. “May I ask you something?”
He set his hat on his head. “Certainly, Isabel.”
I held Ruth’s hand tighter. “Where do you think we should go?”
“What do you mean, child?”
“I know I’ll find work, but I can’t figure where to sleep, me and Ruth. I though you might know a place.”
Pastor Weeks frowned. “I don’t understand what you’re saying, Isabel. You’re to return with Mr. Robert here. You and your sister belong to him now.”
I spoke slowly, saying the words I had practiced in my head since Miss Mary Finch took her last breath, the words that would change everything.
“Ruth and me are free, Pastor. Miss Finch freed us in her will. Momma, too, if she had lived. It was done up legal, on paper with wax seals.”
Mr. Robert snorted. “That’s enough out of you, girl. Time for us to be on the road to Newport.”
“Was there a will?” Pastor Weeks asked him.
“She didn’t need one,” Mr. Robert replied. “I was Aunt Mary’s only relative.”
I planted my feet firmly in the dirt and fought to keep my voice polite and proper. “I saw the will, sir. After the lawyer wrote it, Miss Mary had me read it out loud on account of her eyes being bad.”
“Slaves don’t read,” Mr. Robert said. “I should beat you for lying, girl.”
Pastor Weeks held up his hand. “It’s true. Your aunt had some odd notions. She taught the child herself. I disapproved, of course. Only leads to trouble.”
I spoke up again. “We’re to be freed, sir. The lawyer, Mr. Cornell, he’ll tell you. Ruth and me, we’re going to get work and a place of our own to sleep.”
“That’s enough,” Mr. Robert narrowed his eyes at me. (blz. 7)

Er wordt verder niet gereageerd op Isabels vraag. Zij en Ruth moeten met Mr. Robert mee. De dag erna worden ze door hem verkocht aan een echtpaar dat in New York woont. Het zijn rijke mensen waar ze komen te wonen en er zijn meerdere slaven. Isabel moet helpen bij het huishouden en moet o.a. drank en hapjes serveren aan de man. Als slaaf is Isabel onzichtbaar voor mensen. Op deze manier hoort ze geheimen.

I was just about to push open the library door with my foot when the master said, “Compliments of His Majesty, gentleman. There’s enough money here to bribe half of the rebel army.”
I stopped and peered through the crack.
Madam’s linen chest, the one that she had fussed about when we arrived, was in the middle of the library floor, the top thrown open.
Underskirts and shifts were heaped on the floor beside it. Lockton reached into the chest and pulled out two handfuls of paper currency.
“Huzzah!” said Inkstained as Goldbuttons let out a low whistle.
“Do you have a man ready?” Lockton asked.
“Two,” Shabbywig answered. “One will operate out of Corby’s Tavern, the other from the Highlander.”
“Good.” Lockton crossed back to his desk. I could no longer see him, but his words were clear. “Every man willing to switch sides is to be paid five guineas and two hundred acres of land. If he have a wife, an additional hundred acres. Each child of his blood garners another fifty.”
“Makes me want to marry the next lady I clap eyes on,” Goldbuttons said.
Lockton chuckled.
I gave the dor a little push and it swung open. “Sir?” I asked in a hushed tone.
“Enter,” Lockton said.
I walked in. The other men did not look my way. I was invisible to them until they needed something. (blz. 51)

In New York begint een oorlog. Veel Amerikanen willen vrijheid en zelfstandigheid van Engeland. De Engelsen willen dit natuurlijk niet. In het geheim is het echtpaar voor de Engelsen. In het geheim worden er plannen gesmeed om de Amerikaanse rebellen dwars te zitten. Isabel is al eens benaderd door een van de slaven van de rebellencommandant om te spioneren en de geheimen die ze hoort door te vertellen, maar dat durft ze niet. Het enige wat Isabel wil is vrijheid voor haar en voor Ruth.

The night air was crisp and smelled faintly of salt. I tiptoed down the back steps and flew past the privy and around the side of the house to the gate, which hid in shadows. My heart pounded so loud I felt sure it would wake the enitre street.
I had only to open the gate latch and step out.
My hand would not move.
If I opened the gate, I would be a criminal. Slaves were not allowed out after sunset without a pass from a master. Anyone who caught me could take me to the jail. If I opened the gate, a jude could order me flogged. If I opened the gate, there was no telling what punishment Madam would demand.
If I opened the gate, I might die of fright.
I leaned my head against the gate. I could not open the gate, but I had to open the gate. This house was not a safe place. I had to get us out. But there was no way to get out, no way to run away off an island, no way to run with a little girl. The secret of Madam’s linen chest was the only key I held.
Watch over me, Momma.
I opened the latch, slipped out the gate, and ran. (blz. 54)

Kan spioneren voor de rebellencommandant Isabel helpen om haar vrijheid te krijgen? Zal er een echte oorlog in New York komen? Wat zal er dan met Isabel en Ruth gebeuren?

Mening over het boek

Recensie van Mathilde (ouder dan 18 jaar)
Heb je het boek uitgelezen?
Wat vind je van het boek?
★★★☆☆ – gemiddeld
Waarom heb je dit boek uitgekozen om te lezen?
Ik heb het boek niet zelf uitgekozen, het was het boek voor de maand april voor de Bored to death YA book club
Welke steekwoorden passen bij het boek?
fascinerend, interessant, realistisch, traag, zielig
Hoe kom je aan het boek?
Zelf gekocht
Zitten er plaatjes (illustraties) in het boek?
Wat vind je leuk aan het boek?
Het verhaal geeft een goed beeld over het leven van een slavenmeisje in de 18e eeuw in New York (Verenigde Staten)
Wat vind je niet leuk aan het boek?
Ik vind het verschrikkelijk dat slavernij bestaan heeft
Is er iemand uit het boek die je in het echt zou willen ontmoeten? Wat zou je dan samen gaan doen?
Isabel, gezellig praten
Wil je nog iets anders vertellen over het boek?
Ik vond het moeilijk om in het verhaal van dit boek te komen. Af en toe was het erg traag
Is het boek moeilijk of gemakkelijk te lezen?
Zitten er moeilijke woorden in het boek?
Weet ik niet
Wil je het boek nog een keer lezen?
Nee, ik wil het boek niet nog een keer lezen
Aan wie zou je dit boek aanraden?
Aan jongeren vanaf 15 jaar die meer willen weten over het leven van slaven

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