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2008 National Book Award Finalist,
Young People's Literature

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Laurie Halse Anderson
Simon & Schuster

Laurie Halse Anderson reading at the 2008 National Book Award Finalists Reading
from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.

Photo © Joyce Tenneson.

In the story of the slave girl Isabel's struggles to claim the freedom bequeathed her, and unjustly denied, Laurie Halse Anderson has created not only an adventure story with a resourceful and intelligent heroine, but also a rich vision of Revolutionary Manhattan, inhabited by imperfect human beings, their judgments and choices impaired by fear, shaped by necessity and greed. In a deftly suggested comparison, Isabel suffers, and then endures, the same long odds and the same personal losses as the nation claiming its own independence while denying hers.


Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of numerous books for children and teens. Her highly acclaimed novels include Speak, which was a National Book Award finalist, Printz Honor Book, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Her novel Fever 1793 was named one of New York Public Library's 100 Best Books of 2000, was selected as an ABA Pick of the Lists title, and has won more than a dozen state awards. Her novel, Twisted, was a New York Times bestseller. Laurie lives in Mexico, New York.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.

From acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson comes this compelling, impeccably researched novel that shows the lengths we can go to cast off our chains, both physical and spiritual.


Laurie's official website


I stood across the street from the Bridewell Prison and pondered hard.

Don’t do this. Don’t do this.

All around the Common folks went on their business, soldiers rubbing the cold out of their fingers, women wrapped in long cloaks and thick shawls. They walked over the ground where the gallows had been built last summer, where they hung the traitor Hickey. Back in August the Patriots had torn it down to use the wood for the barricades. The British had built their own hangman’s platform at the opposite end of the Common. It could kill three people at a time.

The ashes in my soul stirred.

Don’t do this.

Men stood at the windows of the prison calling out to those who passed by. Few folk looked in their direction, pretending that the noise came from the throats of the crows circling overhead.

Go back. ‘Tis not your affair.

The whispers in my brainpan grew louder as I crossed the street.

Madam will beat you bloody, he’s not your concern, it’s not your place. Go back, go back before it’s too late.

The crows cawed and wheeled and beat their shiny black wings against the wind-whipped clouds. They saw everything. I stopped in front of the iron-studded oak door and frowned.

He freed me from the stocks. He is my friend. My only friend.

With that, the ashes settled and shushed. My arm lifted light as a feather and pounded the door knocker.


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