Week 3: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson Read-a-Long

Today is week 3 of our group read-a-long of Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson.  Please beware that the answers and questions could contain spoilers.

This week we read Chapters 25-36, and we hope you’ll leave your comments and/or answers to the questions after the post.

If you’re interested in reading our thoughts on the first 10 chapters, go here.  For Chapters 11-24, go here.

We welcome you to post your thoughts on your blog and provide a link or just type your thoughts in the comments section of the discussion post; whatever works best for you. You can answer our questions or just discuss whatever you found most interesting in each section.

Grandfather at the water pump tells Isabel that she must find her River Jordan.  What do you think he means by that and what are your thoughts on what will be Isabel’s River Jordan?

Serena:  My first thought was go to Lady Seymour.  She can help you out, but with the uncertainty surrounding New York, it’s hard to tell what her salvation will be given the Rebels are losing and the British are claiming they will set free any slaves that join their cause.  I also wonder about Curzon, perhaps he’s her River Jordan, and somehow his involvement will lead her to her sister and freedom.  Then of course, there is Lady Seymour.

Anna:  I’m not sure whether the grandfather had anything concrete in mind given the chaos in the city.  Maybe he meant that because of the chaos, each of the slaves has the opportunity to choose for her/himself what they will do right now.  I think Isabel’s River Jordan will have a lot to do with Curzon.

The Girl:  I think it means to find her freedom and her purpose in life.  I think her River Jordan will have something to do with Curzon and maybe Lady Seymour.

When the fire sweeps through Lady Seymour’s house, do you think Isabel’s actions to save her and her letters and portrait will be repaid later on with the promise of freedom?  Or do you think that Lady Seymour will end up being less influential in Isabel’s story?

S: I think that Lady Seymour as long as she’s alive will help Isabel in any way that she cane, but not so much out of obligation.  It seems that she genuinely feels for Isabel and her situation, and seems to like her.  I’m on the fence about Lady Seymour’s continued influence in the story, especially given her ailments and recent fever.  She’s had a lot to recover from, and it seems like Mrs. Lockton is preparing to ensure her death in any way she can.

A: There is such a striking contrast between how Isabel is treated by the Locktons and how she is treated by Lady Seymour.  I don’t know whether her illness will affect her ability to help Isabel, but I hope that her kindness has been shown for a reason.

TG: I think now that Lady Seymour is ill, she will have less of an influence on Isabel.

As we near the final section of the read-a-long, what are your impressions and how have they changed since the beginning?  Any theories about how it will end for Isabel?

S:  I’ve really enjoyed the dates to keep me apprised of historical timelines, and the historical notes at the beginning of each chapter.  I’ve really liked getting to know Isabel and her struggles, and I find her feisty and strong-willed, which is a great way to be if you’re going to help out the rebels.  Even though she’s waffled about where to stand in the battle between the British and Americans, it is clear that she’s not going to abandon those she knows and even cares for, even Curzon.  As for how it will end, I’m hoping for her reunion with Ruth.

A:  I’m impressed by this book so far.  I think Anderson does a great job setting the scene, and she doesn’t gloss over all of the horrors Isabel would have seen and experienced (except maybe for the sexual danger, as discussed in the first week of the read-along).  I have no idea how it’s going to end for Isabel, but I do hope there’s some closure for her regarding Ruth, if not in this book, then later in the series.

TG: I’m still really enjoying the book, but I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to go, and I don’t want to make predictions.  I just want to go with the flow.

What did you think?  Feel free to pose your own questions in the comments as well!



  1. This book is so good it is hard to put down. The is so much NYC history here and it is interesting to see how it impacts Isabel’s life. To answer this week’s questions:
    1- I took Grandfather’s advice oretty much at face value remembering that when the Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land, they crossed the river Jordan. So he basically was telling Isabel she must find her own way to freedom. What her River Jordan will be remains to be seen.

    2- I am not sure how much Lady Seymour can help Isabel, but I think she definitely keeps her somewhat safe from the cruelty of Mrs. Lockton whenever she can. I definitely think that Isabel will be repaid for saving Lady Seymour and her prized possessions – the picture of and letters from her husband.

    3- I also liked the timeline and the notes at the beginning of each chapter. It really does show how events impacted everyone even Isabel. Isabel is a brave girl, and a caring one to those who are kind to her. She so desperately wants to find Ruth and that sometimes clouds her judgement, especially where the Rebels are concerned. She also seems to have mixed feelings about Curzon. But to her advantage, she can read and that can make all the difference in the world.

    I can’t to finish and see what happens.

  2. I am excited to see how this book ends. I do like that Isabel can read and that she is divided over her feelings not only about Curzon, but also about the revolution.

  3. Great discussion questions, here are my thoughts http://irenesdesk.blogspot.ca/2013/09/chains-read-along-week-3.html

  4. 1. I think he means she needs to escape, to get to the other side, maybe meaning Canada

    2. Agree with S, A and TG

    3. I am loving this book and feel better after this part, because things are definitely looking up.

  5. I am more hopeful about this section and the end.

  6. 1. I didn’t know what the grandfather meant about the River Jordan, but Alex’s comment about finding her own way to freedom makes sense to me.
    2. I think Lady Seymour is a very kind woman who wants to help Isabel any way she can, but I’m not sure how much she will be able to do, given her failing health.
    3. I like the book better the more I read. I rarely try to figure out what will happen when I read, so I don’t have any predictions.

  7. […] and gone and I can hardly believe it! This week we read Chapters 25-36 for the read-along over at War Through the Generations. So much has happened in Isabel’s life and in the lives of those who reside in New York. […]

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