OR GIVE ME DEATH by Ann Rinaldi


A Novel of Patrick Henry’s Family
Age Range: 11 - 15
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Skipping over much of the Revolutionary War and relegating Patrick Henry to a minor character, this is not the story one thinks it is; it’s even better. When Sarah Henry, Patrick’s wife, tries to kill her own children (presumably from post-partum depression), the family hides her in the basement rather than send her to the squalor of an insane asylum. Two of the Henrys’ daughters narrate this multi-layered story. Patsy, the typical big sister, asserts her authority over the household and constantly worries that she will inherit the “family curse.” Tomboy Anne also assumes a major family responsibility. Although her mother, who many believe has prophetic powers, tells Anne who will share her mental illness, the girl pretends to be the one destined for doom rather than reveal the true family member. Anne discovers that knowing when to keep a secret and when to tell the truth is not a black-and-white issue. This is further reflected as the Henry family sneaks in tea and other British imports and owns slaves in an age of idealism. Rinaldi delivers another intriguing spin on history, as she clenches the novel with a shocking ending. (Historical fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: July 4th, 2003
ISBN: 0-15-216687-4
Page count: 236pp
Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2003


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