Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry's Family

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Overview

Patrick Henry, the famous statesman, has a secret: He keeps his wife in the cellar. Slowly losing her mind, Sarah Henry has become a danger to herself and her children. But daughter Anne has a secret of her own: She knows which child will inherit their mother's madness.

Told from the point of view of the Henry children, this compassionate tale explores the possibility that Patrick Henry's immortal cry of "Give...

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Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry's Family

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Overview

Patrick Henry, the famous statesman, has a secret: He keeps his wife in the cellar. Slowly losing her mind, Sarah Henry has become a danger to herself and her children. But daughter Anne has a secret of her own: She knows which child will inherit their mother's madness.

Told from the point of view of the Henry children, this compassionate tale explores the possibility that Patrick Henry's immortal cry of "Give me liberty, or give me death," which roused a nation to arms, was first spoken by his wife as she pleaded for her own freedom.

Includes a reader's guide.

With their father away most of the time advocating independence for the American colonies, the children of Patrick Henry try to raise themselves, manage the family plantation, and care for their mentally ill mother.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating . . . An intriguing blend of historical fact and fiction."—School Library Journal

"Gripping."—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
This often gripping but also melodramatic novel set just before the Revolutionary War explores Patrick Henry's tragic domestic life, from the point of view of two of his daughters. Patrick's wife, Sarah, is "mad"-in the opening scenes, she tries to drown their infant son. As Patrick travels extensively, "to talk about the new evils sent to us by the king," 16-year-old Patsy, the oldest child and the first narrator, is left to cope with his disregard for "the evil going on here at home under his own roof." It falls to Patsy (and her intended, MyJohn) to investigate the institution someone recommends and, when it proves barbaric, to contrive for her father to confine her mother to the cellar. Throughout, Patsy must run the household and supervise her four youngest siblings, albeit with the help of slaves. Rinaldi (A Break with Charity) effectively switches narrators midway through, when she adopts the voice of spirited middle sister Anne, who chafes under Patsy's tyrannical rule and the web of household secrets. While the portrayal of Patrick Henry is unusually complex, the author romanticizes Sarah's illness. For example, the unstable woman's pleadings get credit as the source of Henry's most famous line ("Give me liberty or give me death!"), and the plot hinges on the device that Sarah is both prophetic and recognized as such by her daughters. Some young readers may enjoy the supernatural overlay; to others, it may cloud an otherwise perceptive view of the dynamics of a family in distress. Ages 10-14. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From The Critics
Set in colonial times, this fictionalized account of American hero ("Give me liberty or give me death.") Patrick Henry and his family, suggest "what if" the family had a private life, entangled in a web of secrets and lies that never made the headlines. In Rinaldi's alternate universe, Sarah, Patrick's wife, is a "lunatic," but the family sweeps her mental illness under the rug. After she tries to drown her newborn son, however, they lock her in the family cellar for four years. Besides keeping her mother's illness a secret, Anne, the middle daughter, is burdened with another secret. During one of Mrs. Henry's ravings, she claims to know that one of the daughters will inherit her madness, the identity of whom she reveals only to Anne. The novel goes on to unravel a twisted knot of family life and to suggest an alternate origin for Mr. Henry's famous statement in defiance of the British hangman. Young readers will be taken in by Rinaldi's strong storytelling and forget that they are reading historical fiction as they are transported to another time when the country was on the verge of war and Patrick Henry was making history, and many will identify with the heart-wrenching, confusing, and difficult decisions that the Henry family must make. 2003, Gulliver Books, 226 pp., Ages young adult.
—Kim Grozek
Children's Literature
Told from the double perspective of two of Patrick Henry's daughters, this is the compelling story of a family's personal tragedy during the American Revolution. With the country in political turmoil, the father is away from home leaving the children to deal with their mother's downward spiral into madness. Sixteen-year-old Patsy begins the story, "I was the first in the family to know when Mama started to go insane." She holds the burden of an oldest child and rules her younger siblings with too much force. From another perspective, nine-year-old Anne protects her mother who has been confined to the cellar in a strait dress. Anne is torn between telling the truth and protecting someone she loves. She is also hiding the identity of the sibling who may inherit this same disease. The concepts of mental illness and familial tension have been provocatively detailed in this engrossing piece of historical fiction. An author's note and a bibliography are included in a book that will surely provide food for thought. 2003, Gulliver Books, $17. Ages 9 to 14.
—Laura Hummel
KLIATT
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 2003: Rinaldi once again hits her stride and brings us another side of history, this time from the perspective of Patrick Henry's daughters. Covering the years 1771 to 1778, the story is narrated in the first half by Patsy, Henry and Sarah's eldest daughter, who finds herself having to bear the responsibility of the family due to her father's frequent absences and her mother's slow decent into madness. The details of 18th-century life weave through the plot, allowing readers to step into the shoes of a young woman of means and her daily rituals, including keeping house and courtship. Rinaldi skillfully peppers famous historic events throughout the novel, and is particularly sensitive in depicting the conflict Henry faced as a slave owner and a champion of freedom. The second half of the book is narrated by Henry's middle daughter, Anne, who has grown up a bit wild and rebels against the authority of Patsy in her role as lady of the manor. Anne has the distinction of being the only child who visits Sarah in the cellar asylum where the family has confined her for her own safety and the safety of the younger children. In Rinaldi's story, Sarah has been gifted, or cursed, with "the sight," and Anne alone must carry the secret of her mother's legacy of madness. Her struggle throughout the novel is when to tell the truth and when to lie, and she finds herself lying for any number of reasons—to hide a runaway slave, to promote her sister's marriage, and to keep the secret of her father's source for speechwriting material. The story is followed by an author's note in which Rinaldi shares how she constructed her story. KLIATT Codes:JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Harcourt, Gulliver, 226p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
VOYA
Rinaldi offers a look at the private side of a revolutionary hero in a tale told through the voices of his oldest and youngest daughters. Theirs is a household of secret burdens that could affect the course of the new nation that statesman and patriot Patrick Henry fights to create. Sarah Henry, wife and mother, is slowly losing her sanity and has become a danger to herself and her family. Her daughter, Patsy, is determined to save her mother from the dreadful conditions of the public asylum and to help her famous father serve Virginia as it fights for independence. With Patsy's efforts honored by the Continental Congress, she also is the "glue" that holds the Henry family together. Sister Anne, though, struggles under the burden of her family secrets and the role she assumes to hide her siblings from the truth of which one will inherit their mother's "bad blood." Anne overhears her mother's pitiful cry for release, which she is certain her father appropriates as his own "Give me liberty or give me death" that calls a nation to arms. The larger turmoil of revolution and change is mirrored in the domestic unrest and fear of the future within the Henry home. Rinaldi paints a canvas dense with issues large and small, from sibling relationships to slavery, a "war right here in our house" to the birth pangs of a new nation. Fans will not be disappointed, and Rinaldi should garner some new attention for her timely subject. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Harcourt, 236p,
— Mary Arnold
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-"I was the first one in the family to know when Mama started to go insane." This introductory line sets the tone for this story about Patrick Henry's two eldest daughters struggling to grow up in revolutionary America. The first part of the book is narrated by 16-year-old Patsy, who strives to gain her siblings' respect and retain control of the family's "Negro servants" when her mother is confined to the cellar. With immature aspirations and clouded by the fear that she will inherit her mother's illness, she longs only to marry her betrothed and to live a privileged, petted life on their Virginia plantation. Willful, provoking, and seemingly spoiled, nine-year-old Anne narrates the second part. She is surprisingly filled with insight, intelligence, and overwhelming compassion as she challenges her domineering sister. Tormented by the question, "when do you keep a secret and when do you tell a lie?" Anne takes measurable yet unrewarded risks to do what is best for those she loves. Rinaldi successfully weaves the past into a fascinating story from two unique perspectives. Although the plot unfolds slowly at the beginning, its appeal along with the pace increases. The book is an intriguing blend of historical fact and fiction within which lies the hint of embedded psychological themes such as mental disorders, precognition, and complex relationship issues.-Kimberly Monaghan, Vernon Area Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152050764
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Series: Great Episodes Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 186,922
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.80 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history to life. A self-made writer and a newspaper columnist for twenty-one years, she lives in central New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

SPRING 1771

I WAS THE FIRST ONE in the family to know when Mama started to go insane. Somewhere along the line, when Pa was away speechifying against all those laws and writs and resolutions, she took leave of her senses.

I didn't want to admit it at first. Mama's tired, I told myself. Too much time alone. But then one day she dipped baby Edward into the basin of water because he was fretful.

Dipping a baby in water is no reason to think somebody is addled. But Mama wasn't about to take him out.

Baby Edward was just two months old, and he'd been crying for hours already. Nothing Silvy or Pegg or any of the other Negro servants did would stop him.

"The water will becalm him," Mama said.

But she had that same look in her eyes that I'd seen the day I found her in the middle of the English garden trying to take all her clothes off, and talking about how the sun was her only friend. I got her inside right quick. That was the day she found out Pa was leaving once more.

"The House of Burgesses again." She looked mournful sad. And after that day she just went all inside herself.

Edward stopped crying, sure enough, when she put him in that water. He near turned blue.

"Mama," I said, "Mama." But gently. Lest she get a purchase on him that I couldn't break. She paid me no mind.

So I pulled my little brother out of the water. He was choking by then, and I did what Pa had taught me and John to do in case one of the other little ones fell into New Found River. I set him down on the wood table and pushed his chest until he got his breath.

"I can't abide his crying anymore," Mama was saying. She just kept saying it, over and over, while I set about getting Edward breathing, and Pegg, our cook, started praying to Jesus then and there.

Soon the commotion brought Pegg's children, who were always underfoot, anyway. From Shadrack, the oldest at twelve, to Nancy, Pleasant, Jessee, Reuben, and even Letty, the two-year-old.

"Is the baby daid? Is the baby daid?" five-year-old Reuben kept asking.

"Get the children out!" I ordered.

Pegg shooed them out.

"Take Mama to the front parlor."

She led Mama away.

"And keep a still tongue in your head." I was stern but kind, the way Pa had taught me to be with the Negroes.

But Pa was away again. Likely riding through the countryside to stop and call at taverns, stores, and plantations to talk about the new evils sent to us by the king. While he did not know of the evil going on here at home under his own roof.

Nobody in the family did yet. Except MyJohn, my intended. My betrothed. So far I'd managed to keep it between me and MyJohn.

I wrapped Edward in dry clothing. He was making little wheezing sounds. I put him in his cradle and went from the detached kitchen to the main house. I ran in the back door, through the long hall, where there were bloodstains on the heart-pine floors because of a duel once fought here. I was careful not to step on the bloodstains. All of us children were convinced it was bad luck to step on them.

There was nobody in the front parlor. What had Pegg done with Mama? I stamped my foot on the wide floorboards.

All eight rooms and the great hall were empty.

I ran upstairs to the top floor from where you could see Carter's Mountain and the foothills around Charlottesville.

Nobody.

I ran back downstairs to the cellar. In the rear was the bricked-up dry well.

It wouldn't be the first time Pegg had put her in there. "Bring her around," she'd said, last time. "Freeze the devil inside her."

"There's no devil in my mother. And don't you ever do it again!" I'd shouted.

I heard Mama crying behind the old, thick wooden door.

The dry well was old, old as the house itself. Old as the devils that tormented my mother. Pegg was right about that, but I'd never admit it. It was deep, too. Twenty-five feet long. The food was stored there in terrible coldness.

I pounded on the door. "Mama!" I yelled. "It's me, Patsy. What are you doing in there?"

"Pegg put me here. She said I near killed Edward. And I must pay for my sins."

"Mama, you haven't killed Edward. I've got him breathing right, and he isn't crying anymore. I'll find the keys and let you out."

"I've got the keys."

"Then why don't you open the door, Mama?"

"Pegg said I must stay here an hour. And pray. You'll tell me when the hour is up, won't you?"

Pegg! How dare she order Mama about, the mistress of the place! I felt a stab of fear. "Pegg is wrong, Mama. She had no right to do this to you."

"She said she'd tell your pa when he comes home, if I don't stay here an hour."

I leaned my forehead against the rough, old, thick wood of the door. I must becalm myself. Tell Pa? How dare she? If it was anyone's place to tell Pa it was mine. I knew I should tell him. Maybe I should write to him now. What would happen if I told him?

What would happen if I didn't? Would Mama kill Edward some other time, when I wasn't around to protect him? Would she put a pillow over his face at night? What would I do then? Still keep her secret? Say he died in his sleep? Babies did sometimes. Dark, unexplainable things happened all the time in the outlands of Virginia.

Look what had happened to Charles Chiswell, who'd once owned this very house. His son John ran his friend through the heart with a sword at Ben Mosby's Tavern at Cumberland Court House. All over a card game. Got away with it, too. It's what Pa calls the corruption of the aristocracy.

Mama is aristocracy. She is descended from Alfred the Great. Also King Edward the First. She has fourteen barons in her family. Surely that's too many barons. One lady ancestor, Mary Shelton, was lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth.

"Mama, please open the door. Please. I'm saying you can come out now. You are the mistress of the plantation. You don't have to mind Pegg. And I won't let her tell Pa."

From behind me then came a clattering of shoes down the wooden steps, voices like a flock of blue jays. My brothers and sisters, come to gawk.

"What's wrong, Patsy?" It was John, my brother, a year younger than I, a head taller. He'd be tall, like Pa, John would soon. The same blue eyes, too.

"Get the children out of here," I told him.

Beyond stood Will, eight; Anne, seven; and Betsy, two, all staring.

"Where's Mama?" Anne asked. She sensed things. I was convinced she had uncommon powers. She always did know things she shouldn't, and was alert to every superstition and old-religion belief of the Negroes. She was a special pet of Pegg's, always getting treats from her in exchange for information. I know Pegg used her against me.

No matter. I'd deal with Pegg and Anne both.

John ushered them up the stairs.

I waited until I heard them running through the hall overhead, screeching and laughing like the little barbarians they were. Pa spoiled them, let them all run wild. No wonder Mama was going daft.

Then I heard the creaking of the dry-well door as it opened. I turned.

Mama stood there, shivering so she couldn't stop. She'd catch the ague if I didn't warm her, just like I'd had to warm baby Edward.

I grabbed her by the shoulders, which felt thinner than they looked. "Mama, come on out of there right now," I ordered.

She obeyed. I slammed the door shut. The keys jingled when she handed them to me, she was shaking so. Quickly I locked the door.

She came along. Abovestairs I put her in the front parlor, where a fire burned in the hearth. I wrapped her in a blanket. Lordy, I was tired of a sudden. I wished somebody would sit me down and wrap me in a blanket and give me something comforting to drink.

I didn't know how much longer I could continue like this, protecting Mama from herself, waking nights when I heard her walking the halls, and getting up to guide her back to bed, before she wandered outside. Wondering when I'd find her one night in the fancy English garden, baying at the moon. Or when I'd wake one fine morning to find baby Edward dead in his cradle.

And trying to keep the knowledge from the other children that our mother was slowly going mad.

And from Pa.

I was fearful that if Pa knew, he'd put her in the asylum in Williamsburg. MyJohn had told me about it. "God's shoe buckles!" he'd said. "They put chains on the people there. They put them in tiny cells. It's a foul bedlam."

"You've seen it?" I'd asked.

"No, but I've heard."

"That won't do for Pa. As a lawyer, he'll say it's secondhand information. That we must see for ourselves."

"Then I'll take you, and you can tell him. As a matter of fact, you're due for a visit to Williamsburg. You've been working too hard around here."

"And visiting the insane asylum will help me?"

"No." He'd grinned. "My friends, the Douglasses, have a new play that opens soon. The Beggar's Opera. We'll go see the asylum first, then the play and supper. You can stay with Mrs. Rind. I'll go to an inn. It'll cheer you, if the asylum casts you down."

He didn't shilly-shally about things. Oh, I needed him now. I wanted to see him this very minute. I loved him so! The breadth of his shoulders, his strong neck that held up that noble head, his blond curly hair, his hard jawline and straight nose and gentle mouth.

I believed in God when I looked at him, more than when I read the Bible.

Was that blasphemy? Never mind, I didn't care.

I'd go with MyJohn to see the asylum. I'd do anything to keep Mama out of there. I'd lie, I'd steal, I'd run somebody through the heart with a sword like Charles Chiswell's son did.

I fetched some brandy from the sideboard and gave the glass to Mama. She drank it down quick. I gave her more. I'd get her drunk if I had to, if it would becalm her.

Soon she settled down. There was no sound but the ticking of the clock, the distant screeching of my brothers and sisters outside on the long sloping lawn, running barefoot now. They sounded worse than the Powhatan Indians. They were playing with Pegg's children. My little sisters were rolling down the hill, skirts flying, like hellions.

Anne and Pegg's Nancy were the same age. And I couldn't separate them. Will, Shadrack, and Reuben were poking sticks at a beehive they'd gotten down from a tree. Serve them right if they were all stung to pieces. I saw John trying to take the stick away from them.

John couldn't be expected to mind them for long. He was a young man already, coming into a young man's estate. I knew he wanted to ride over this afternoon to see Dorothea Dandridge. She was the daughter of one of the most esteemed families around here. Her father was a man of large means. His mother, wed to the late Governor Spotswood. They had parties all the time in their mansion house, card games, minuets, even marches in the ballroom. Pa had known Dorothea since she was four.

John was smitten with her. But Pa did not know it. And I knew he would disapprove. John was only a gangling youth, after all, with nothing to offer Dorothea. It would only lead to heartbreak.

More than once I'd wanted to tell Pa of John's secret rides over there. John'd begged me not to. So had Anne, who took his part in everything.

Still, John had other fish to fry. He had a tutor to answer to, studies, and his horses. John was set on raising horses and planned to run his filly, Small Hope, in the Sweepstakes Race this August. I was hoping that his love of racing and breeding would make him forget Dorothea in time.

I didn't like being the oldest. And I needed MyJohn's steady voice and firm hand around here all the time. Pa's already asked us to live here when we wed in a year. Why not sooner?

I determined to push for our wedding. I might be only sixteen, but Mama was sixteen when she wed Pa, wasn't she? And he only eighteen? Didn't he always tell me I was his favorite? The one he depended on? The glue that held the family together?

Behind me I heard Mama whimper and then sigh. I turned. She was asleep.

I must talk to Pegg. Make sure she didn't speak of what she'd seen. There was another problem, the Negroes.

MyJohn came over every day now, to help our manager, David Melton, keep the place running. He even kept the books for Pa. We had near seventy Negroes on the place altogether. And things were changing all around. MyJohn said there were more and more whisperings amongst the field people. I knew Pegg was getting bolder and bolder. So were Alice and Silvy. MyJohn said the field Negroes were gathering in groups, sloughing off work, and giving David a lot of sass of late.

Every white planter's family in the commonwealth was afraid of their Negroes.

Pa and I had spoken often of the problem.

"If war comes, I have no doubt that the British will encourage slave insurrections to discourage a patriot movement," Pa said.

Pa's been talking about war for a whole year now, in meetings.

They call Pa the Voice in those meetings. Mr. Jefferson, the Pen. And Colonel Washington, the Sword.

Pa says he hates slavery.

But he also says he's drawn along by the inconvenience of living in Virginia without his Negroes. "But a time will come when we can abolish this evil. Until then, we can at least treat them with leniency," he says.

So there it was. Pa's Negroes must be treated with leniency. He'd talked with MyJohn, David Melton, and me about it. We all promised to abide by his wishes.

But I know that since Mama took her turn for the worse, Pegg has decided to test her mettle. And mine. If it weren't for Mama, I'd wed MyJohn and go and live with him and write poetry, as I like to do. And visit Williamsburg during Publick Times, when General Court is held, and attend balls and lectures, the fairs and the theater. And then come home and have babies.

But for now I am needed here. I sat down on the floor and leaned my head against Mama's chair as she dozed. She'd walked again last night, and I knew she was pure spent and would sleep the afternoon away. The fire crackled. I plotted.

Copyright © 2003 by Ann Rinaldi

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2007

    Great book!!!

    I loved Or give me death. It was great from the moment I picked it up. It gives you an insight in to the life of Patrick henery. It was very well written. I found the forsight very interesting.And the on going theme of who will get her mothers sickness. That alone will leave you turning pages.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    BORING

    This book is not about texting!!!!!!!! WARNING DONT READ ON U WILL FALL ASLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:( :) :D

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Wonderful

    Lovie Ann Rinald!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    Or Give Me Death

    Very very good. I got real hooked on it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Enveloping!

    This story is so touching! i cried more than twice while reading this book. i never cry but this book really got my tears flowing. this book is through the view of two sisters struggling to live with their mother's illness of depression. she also has the 'sight.' they have locked her in the cellar from scaring her kids and she has told anne, the second sister's view, who will inherit her illness. people are thought of it being one person to inherit it but really, a shoking discovery is made at the end of the book that will make you want more. this book ends on a good note. "when do you tell a lie, when telling the truth will only hurt that someone?" this book is deffinitely in my library at home and on the computer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2008

    this is the best book ever anyone and everyone will love it and if you dont something is wrong with you

    this book was amazing it gets in detail and never misses a spot it seems as if everything is the climax you would love it so read this book and even if you dont like reading you will like this i promise

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    Umm I read this book and I really don't think it was all that good. I could not really get into it... It could not keep my attention. It was actually kinda boring and had no moral.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2008

    This is one of those books that would be great to read but it would be okay if you didn't.

    At the very beginning of the book, pretty much like all books are, it was boring because it was telling you what was going on and explaining things. Once you got in the middle and end, it was great! You really learn a lot of what may have happened from 1771-1778. Even though it is historical FICTION, the author, Ann Rinaldi, really made it sound like you were really there in 1771-1778! I really recommend this book!!! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    Or Give Me Death

    This book was great. I loved it from the start. If you liked this book, you should check out more Ann Rinaldi books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    historical imagination

    Or Give Me Death is a great book for anyone to read. It shows two types of wars: between countries, and within a household. This book brings to life the secrets of Patrick Henry¿s family. One of the main secrets is that Sarah Henry is going insane, and she is being kept in the Henry's basement. Ann Rinaldi¿s writing is an invite to readers for comparing and contrasting happenings from the past and the present. It is also interesting that she choose to tell the story from the children¿s point of view, and not the main historical figure¿s point of view. Although Or Give Me Death is a great historical book, it is shrouded by the fiction of Ann Rinaldi¿s imagination.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2007

    oh my gosh

    wow this book is awesome.from the moment i read this book i couldn't but it down.i also think ANN RINADLI is an amazing writter.i give this book one of the best books written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    Or Give Me Death Review

    This book is great. It has great facts but also you will not be able to put it down! A must read for anyone who loves history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    NailBiting Historical Fiction!

    I was amazed with 'Or Give Me Death'. The story line was captivating. Ann Rinaldi is such an amazing writer, she is a very voluble writer, and her words and writing are just unbelievable! She takes history and turns it into a story that keeps your eyes glued to the pages. This book is told through the eyes of two people, daughters Patsy and Anne. Patsy is the eldest who when the mother goes insane, thinks about not getting married. She is the serious, head of the household girl. Anne is the carefree child in the beginning of the book. When the children learn the truth about their mother, you can see a change in Anne. Anne is the only child who the mother confides in. Anne has to keep the secret of who will inherit their mother's madness. This book is so captivating I was actually upset when I was done because it was that good. Patrick Henry was an important historical figure which makes the book all the more better. 'When to tell the truth and when to tell a lie' is what Anne goes through when she is keeping her secret. I think all of us can relate to this book because everyone isn't always sure when they should tell the truth. I LOVED THIS BOOK! If you haven't read this book, do so! Trust me, you'll love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2006

    'Or Give Me Death' is a very good book!

    'Or Give Me Death' is a very good read that makes you want to learn more about Patrick Henry's family and life. It is very suspenseful when the youngest daughter knows who will get the mental illness that their mother has, but is reluctant to tell everyone. Patrick Henery's wife seems to predict what will disastors will happen next in the colonies. Did the famous words 'Give me liberty, or give me death' really come from Patrick Henry, or did they come from his mentally ill wife? Read 'Or Give Me Death' and you will find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2005

    Outstanding historical novel

    a very intreging novel of Patrick Henry's family. it tells about life during the start of the Revolution and the hardships faced by a family. i really liked it. ann rinaldi is an outstanding author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2005

    A well-written historical fiction novel

    'Or Give Me Death' by Ann Rinaldi is a historical fiction book written partly in the Old English style of writing. Along with its unique style it has moderate vocabulary and appropriate content. One of the reasons for this style of writing is the novel is focused around the famous Patrick Henry's family; daughters Anne, Betsy, and Patsy, sons John and William, and his wife who is going insane. Throughout the book they (mostly Anne) have to deal with their ill mother who has 'visions' - including which child will inherit her madness. Set in Colonial Virginia, this story is a classic example of the question 'when do you tell the truth, and when do you tell a lie?'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2005

    Not just another history book

    'When do you tell the truth and when do you lie?' I was required to read this book for my eigth grade History class. I thought it was just another boring history book. However, once I got to, maybe, the 30th page or so, the story had me riveted to my seat. This is a historical story of Patrick Henry from his daughters' point of view. The characters were well developed and intriguing. A contagious plot and surprise ending makes for a wonderful tale. Two thumbs up!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2005

    Captivating

    This book had me from the start. I loved the story line. I learned a lot about Patrick Henry, and I thought it was very well developed

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    Interesting and informational

    This book had a very good plot that made the book vey interesting.I learned alot about not Patrick Henry, but patrick Henrys Family and what Patrick Henrys comittment and time meant to his family.A MUST READ! if you like historical Fiction or are studying the Revolutionary war i would reccomend this.I think it would be for ages 10 and up

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2003

    Awesome, chilling story!

    Ann Rinaldi has done it again! She has created yet another awesome, chilling, thought provoking historical novel. The setting of the books is meticulousy researched and portrays my community (I'm born and raised within a few miles of Scotchtown and Rural Plains) correctly. The story is one that not many know and Rinaldi does an excellent job of showing the agony the Henry family went through with Mrs. Henry's illness. A must read...as are all of Rinaldi's books.

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