Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: David L. Dudley
Publisher: Clarion Books
Cy Iives with his father, a sharecropper, until meddling in the white men's business gets the best of him. He is sent to a chain gang where he must work all day. Cy must do everything that Cain and Prescott tell him to. All the boys hate Cain and Prescott, and when the boys get the courage to display their anger they pay the price. The boys are whipped for bad behavior, or are sent to work in the mines. Visiting day is when all of camp prepares for people to come see the boys. Cy always hopes his dad will come. After waiting three years, Cy's father finally comes and explains why it took him so long. Cy and his dad devise a plan for escape, but one of their own betrays them. Cy finds a way to escape and frees everyone in the process. Friendship changes Cy, and he makes sacrifices for his friends. Cy finally feels free and happy about the choices he made.
Cy in Chains has excellent character building. The author creates multidimensional characters with experiences readers will relate to. The overall theme of the book is a positive one even though a lot of the subject matter is difficult and sad. Forgiving yourself and others, and learning to free yourself from regret are the major messages that the author conveys through the story. To reach these ideals, Cy has to make sacrifices for his friends and overcome his fears. A weakness in this book is understanding how characters feel at different points in the story; it was difficult to interpret at times. The lack of emotional language and internal dialogue during parts of the book also makes it difficult to vicariously experience Cy's situation and takes away from the story. However, the book is well written very enjoyable to read.
*Contains mild sexual content and mild language