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A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials

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Overview

"Mistress Bishop," said Magistrate Corwin, "you are accused of being a witch. How say you to this charge?"

"I do not know what a witch is."

Immediately the girls in the circle, who were sitting up front in the room, went into fits. They threw themselves on the floor and shrieked and wailed.... They twitched their bodies and howled like forest creatures at the time of the full moon. The howling was a terrible thing to hear. It cut through one's bones with its primitive sound.

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A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials

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Overview

"Mistress Bishop," said Magistrate Corwin, "you are accused of being a witch. How say you to this charge?"

"I do not know what a witch is."

Immediately the girls in the circle, who were sitting up front in the room, went into fits. They threw themselves on the floor and shrieked and wailed.... They twitched their bodies and howled like forest creatures at the time of the full moon. The howling was a terrible thing to hear. It cut through one's bones with its primitive sound.

While waiting for a church meeting in 1706, Susanna English, daughter of a wealthy Salem merchant, recalls the malice, fear, and accusations of witchcraft that tore her village apart in 1692.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An enthralling, authentic story . . . Rinaldi at her best."—Kirkus Reviews
"A graceful blend of fiction and history . . . Finely tuned, well researched and very accessible, this novel ranks with Rinaldi's finest work."—Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Historical fiction readers, both adult and young adult, will be fascinated by this tale of the Salem Witch Trials. Rinaldi has an uncanny talent for slipping into the skin of her characters. In this novel, her viewpoint comes from Susanna English, the daughter of a rich merchant. Susanna's money and station place her outside the circle of girls at the center of the hysteria, but not outside their sphere of influence. Susanna knows that the accusations are being put forth by young adolescents driven by revenge-and by a wish to escape the boredom of church and Bible reading. Fearing for her family, she refuses to share this knowledge. As the fervor builds, so does Susanna's guilt and sorrow until finally she is rescued from "going down a dark road" by a loving friend and her own moral code. Rinaldi's research is flawless and her period familiarity striking, but her strongest power is as a storyteller.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152046828
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/7/2003
  • Series: Great Episodes Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 83,020
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.56 (w) x 7.05 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. A self-made writer and newspaper columnist for twenty-one years, Ms. Rinaldi attributes her interest in history to her son, who enlisted her to take part in historical reenactments up and down the East Coast. She lives with her husband in central New Jersey. Visit her online at www.annrinaldi.com .

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Reading Group Guide

1. Why does Susanna feel she is as guilty as Ann Putnam and her circle of girls? Do you think she shares their guilt?

2. Father English advises Susanna: "Think for yourself, daughter. But know when to speak and when to remain silent." Susanna had many chances to tell what she knew about Ann's circle. Why didn't she break charity with the girls? Would you have spoken up in her situation?

3. Why did the magistrates believe the girl accusers?

4. Susanna claims that "ideas were never encouraged in Salem." Why might ideas be discouraged?

5. John Indian says, "If we waited all our lives to do what was allowed, we would never do anything." Is it ever a good idea to do things that aren't allowed?

6. Why would Ann and her friends fake possession by the devil and accuse innocent people of witchcraft? How do you feel about their reasons? Do kids today do cruel things for sport and attention? Who could you turn to if you knew about kids creating trouble?

7. Why did Tituba and other prisoners confess to a crime they didn't commit?

8. Susanna believes the townspeople will forgive Ann when she asks for forgiveness. Why would they? Would you?

Copyright (c) 2003. Published in the U.S. by Harcourt, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 104 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 16, 2010

    Great Book!

    If you love historical fiction about the Salem Witch Trials, then this is the book for you. Although it is written for children 10 to 14 years of age (yes, I am almost 30), I still found it very interesting. I even learned some things. The author did a great job bringing the characters to life. I also enjoyed the Authors note at the end of the novel (which I dont usually read). She included some great facts and explained which characters were real and who was fictional. I read the book in 1 day!!
    I plan on reading more by this author!! 2 thumbs up!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2013

    Awesome book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Awesome book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love all of Ann Rinaldi's books but this one was the best. It is very historically accurate and kept me interested the whole time. I read it in a day it was so good! I will definitely keep reading historical fiction books by Ann Rinaldi and would recommend them to anyone even if they don't like historical fiction.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2012

    Very Interesting Take On An Old Tradgedy

    A nice, easy read. A touch of fiction to get you to see this story from a different perspective.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2009

    A Great Suspensful Story

    A Break with Charity is a very informative book about the witch trials in Salem in the 1600's. This book is not only informative but it is also a minature love story. In this book there is a circle of girls that call out upon certain people saying that they are witches. This was not true but mostly everyone in Salem belived the teen age girls. So 19 innocent people were hung and one was pressed to death. On the other hand, Susanna English knew that the girls were lieing while others didn't. Susanna wanted to tell a man named Joseph Putnam what she knew, but did not get a chance. When she finally did he was shocked, because one of the girls in the circle was his niece, he believed Susanna though and went to talk to a man in charge of Salem to write a letter. This letter stoped the killings in Salem and the witch non-sence was put to rest. If you enjoy love stories, suspensful stories, or informative books i reacomend A Break with Charity, for it has all of those qualities in it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Horrific But Great Book!

    A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi was most exhilarating, It taught me about some of the worst times in American history through a fictional character who just kept pulling me in. Throughout the book I learned about the Salem witch trials, while enjoying the thrill of the story. The more I read, the more I was interested in the historical events of the Salem witch trials.

    Susanna, the main character made me feel the emotions that she felt. In her journey to save her parents from being killed, she learned who she was as a person, as did I. This book is also a good example of peer pressure and its effect on not only oneself, but other people. It teaches the importance of a community, and the trust needed to sustain a life without violence. A Break with Charity shows that sometimes religions and beliefs can make it harder to see people for who they are.

    Ann Rinaldi's details and historical facts about the Salem witch trials were displayed in vivid images that made them pleasurable to read. I learned so much about the Salem Witch Trials in such a short little novel. I felt as though I could not stop reading, not only about the fictional character, but also about the horrific historical events. A Break with Charity is one of my favorite books

    Kylie L

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    ''Intresting''

    I find this book very interesting about what happend in the 1800's during the trials.(Salem Witch Trials.)Give this book 10/10 for edgy, thrilling and realism.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2008

    To break charity or to lose lifes?

    A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi is a story about the Salem witch trails. A group of girls are accusing innocent people of being witches the study of witchcraft is against their religion. The people being accused are losing their lives because of these lies. The problem is, will anybody have enough courage to stand up for what¿s right and stop the madness happening in Salem? There are three main characters in this story. Susanna English is the main character. She was born into a wealthy family, and desperately wants to join the circle of girls. Susanna is fourteen years of age but is very mature and determined. She knows a secret that could stop the trials. She does not say anything to anyone, because she was threatened by Ann Putnam. Ann Putnam is the leader of the circle of girls. This group consists of Mary Walcott, Elizabeth Booth and Susannah Sheldon, Abigail Hobbs and Betty Parris help these girls. Ann is about the same age as Susanna. Ann is a sly, evil and sneaky girl. She tricks the reverends and magistrates into thinking that the innocent people were real witches. She told Susanna the secret about the circle of girls, but if Susanna breaks charity, Ann will name Susanna¿s entire family as witches. Later, Susanna¿s parents are named as witches. They and their other daughter, Mary, flee to Boston for safety. Susanna stays in Salem to be with the one she loves, Jonathan. During this time she lives with Joseph Putnam, Ann¿s uncle. Joseph is very unlike Ann. He works hard to try and stop the trials, while Ann is the one who started everything. Joseph is a trustworthy friend to whom Susanna breaks charity and tells him the secret. Joseph is a loyal and helpful citizen to the town of Salem. The key passage of this story is when Susanna tells Joseph the secret. ¿Joseph, I have not been honest with you¿ said Susanna. ¿The afflicted girls dissemble, Joseph.¿ ¿But we have no proof.¿ ¿I have proof. There was a circle, Joseph. All the afflicted girls belonged to it before the madness began. They would meet every day at the Reverend Parris¿s parsonage. They met with Tituba (Reverend Parris¿s slave). She told them stories, read their palms, and conjured. I wanted to join the circle. They seemed to be having such good times. But they didn¿t want me. Then I heard that Tituba was telling fortunes. And I went to see her without the knowledge of the girls in the circle. I wanted to know if she could tell me of my brother, William, who was then lost to us, at sea. On my first visit, Tituba told me William would return. On my second visit, I met little Betty Parris. She was taken with fever that would lead to her fits. She was near demented and raving about how I would be punished if the other girls found me there. And how she had tampered with the forbidden. Oh, she was a frightened and guilty little thingy, Joseph! She said her father preached against pleasures, and she indulged in them. Soon after reverend summoned the doctor.¿ ¿And he pronounced the evil hand upon her.¿ replied Joseph. ¿Yes.¿ ¿Ann said they had started the circle for sport, then little Betty was getting so much attention. Then, when the ministers came, the rest of the girls in the circle became afflicted in like manner, because this was their chance to break out of the restrictions put upon them by our way of life in Salem. I understood immediately what they were about. Ann Putnam told me that little Betty and Abigail did not have the sense to carry the matter through without being discovered. So she and some of the other girls met with Betty and Abigail to explain how they must continue to outwit their elders or be terribly punished. Ann said they swore fidelity to each other and promised to give succor to one another until the end.¿ I think this passage was important to the novel because it turned everything around. Joseph now had information to tell the reverends and magistrates who would be able to stop the madness. They could prove the peo

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2004

    Enthralling Novel

    This book was such an exciting book. I could never find a time to set it down. Already interested in the Salem Witch trials, I was aghast at the horrific details I had not learned about.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2014

    Really awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!

    I can not belive that susana went to ticuba for help about william its so sweet to think that some siblings get along but alo when betty parris was talking in chapter 5 she sounded pusesd like a ghost or something i mean get this girl so advil or something call 911 shes crazy!!!!!!!!!!!! No just kiding he is just really sick like your dieing sick but other than that weard/scary pary its a real good book -read this book :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    Good book

    It was interesting

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2013

    Great Book!

    I loved this book! Ann Rinaldi has created a masterpiece! This book is not only very informational, but also has a great deal of romance and suspense. If you can't handle slight tragedy/violence, then this isn't a great choice for you. I, however, like horror stories as well as drama, comedy, etc... so the touch of scariness was great. If you are anything like I am and like most genres of book, this will be great for you. And I can guarentee a five star rating for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    Really good and enjoyable but not awesome...

    This book was pretty good but I just could not stand Susanna's weak reactions and attempts!! I personally liked Johnathan's character and how he helps Susanna but, I don't know... Something was missing... Anyway, the plot was good and the adjectives were amazing, but the story and the conflict was so rushed! One part is so slow, and a few more pages, a few months had passed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    Great!!!

    This book was really boring at first but once i acctually started to read it, it was really good. I had to read it for school and it was the only book that acctually looked good... probably cause i go to an elementary/middle school.
    -Angeline=)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    Hidy to to hidy

    Charity Res 10

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Loved it

    Wish i could find more like this

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2012

    A wonderful book

    I think this book is amazing. It might be a bit frightening in some parts but you get over it pretty quickly.
    I had to read this for school (well I did not have to but I chose to) I think this book is for fifth or sixth graders.
    I have not finished it yet but I probably will today because it is so good!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Salem witch trials

    This book was a wonderful source for life in the salem witch time. I think this is a great book when you need to read historical fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    This is a must read !

    I had to purchase this book for school and it is a perfect resource for information in the Salem Witch Trials. This is a captivating, spine-chilling novel that everyoe should read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    Ok

    I had 2 read this 4 school and it was too scary 4 me

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Great story

    This book is so suspenceful. I loved it because i like reading historical fiction and the salem witch trials. I really liked this novel.

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