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Finishing Becca: A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,412 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
An independent-minded young maid tells the story of social-climber Peggy Shippen and how she influenced Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of the Patriot forces. Revolutionary Philadelphia is brought to life as Becca seeks to find her “missing pieces” while exploring the complicated issues of the war between the impoverished independence men and the decadent British Tories. “This ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1994)
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Johnny Tremain by Esther ForbesMy Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln CollierThe Turncoat by Donna ThorlandRise to Rebellion by Jeff ShaaraChains by Laurie Halse Anderson
American Revolutionary War Fiction
14th out of 101 books — 159 voters
A Break with Charity by Ann RinaldiThe Fifth of March by Ann RinaldiTime Enough for Drums by Ann RinaldiFinishing Becca by Ann RinaldiCast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi
Best Ann Rinaldi Books
4th out of 30 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jul 07, 2014 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, american-history
3.75 STARS

I haven't read Rinaldi since my early teens (Time Enough for Drums seemed SO thrilling and romantic at the time!) and I'm not sure if this book just wasn't as good as some of those I read back then, or if I wasn't as wowed because I have read some truly great authors since then and Rinaldi just doesn't quite hold up.

That said, this was still a very enjoyable and fast read that held my interest and she did a fine job of incorporating fact with fiction. At times the theme of Becca needi
رابعة الدلالي
Oct 20, 2015 رابعة الدلالي rated it it was amazing
am I in love with this novel? Yes indeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed ...

It's simply an amzaing historical novel ... Omi bought me the book and I wasn't encouraged to read it as it deals with one of the issues that I hate the most "THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION" (it's not the occasion to tell u how much I hate their talks about their fight for independence when they occupy others ) But I picked the book and started reading it just cos Omi asked me to do so ( she did it really kindly ) ... and there is the surprise
This book has everything I love in Ann Rinaldi's books. History, intrigue, interesting characters, and then her author's note telling you what's true or not. Really great. Will have to reread some others here soon.
I LOVED me some Ann Rinaldi when I was twelve, and I bought this book during that obsession, yet never read it due to my freakish book organization rules. I thought that she did a great job of making history accessible to younger readers, without talking down to them (she gives a glossary of lesser-known historical terms at the end of the book instead). Since the main character is always the same age as the intended reader, it makes it easy for us to understand and relate to a person that could ...more
Isabel Jacobs
Jun 11, 2011 Isabel Jacobs rated it liked it
Becca Syng is a clever girl on the quest to find her "missing pieces." When her mother sends her to the Philidelphia home of the Shippens, a wealthy Quaker family, to be "finished," Becca begins to think that she is meant to live like they do, surrounded by riches. Yet as the servant to Peggy Shippen, a spoiled, pretty daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Shippen, Becca realizes that the life of the wealthy isn't how it looks on the outside. Peggy is constantly manipulating her parents for everything they ...more
Apr 08, 2011 Shoshanah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finishing Becca takes place during the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The title refers to how Becca's mother sends Becca to be a maid in the Shippen household to help her find her missing peices and become a finished woman. While in the household she becomes aquianted with General Benedict Arnold.

From elementary school I know who the traitor Benedict Arnold is. But while I knew we betrayed the American to the British, I wasn't sure the details of the event. By the end of the book I can't s
Violet Potter
Nov 19, 2016 Violet Potter rated it liked it
This book was interesting in the beginning, and I enjoyed getting to know Peggy Shippen. However, I felt like the main character wasn't really Becca. She seemed to be more of a person on the sidelines, than in the spotlight of the story. Peggy was definitley in the spotlight.
Annabel ♥
This review can also be found on Leopard Kitty Books, . :)

The day I bought this book was one of those days that I kept staring and staring at the YA section of the bookstore and every book looked the same and none of them interesting. Usually I just can't get enough of YA books but that day I was looking for something new, something different from the books that I usually read. Well I was right. This book was certainly different from most of the books I have
Rebecca Radnor
The book is based on historical events and written in two parts, first the British occupation of Philadelphia when Peggy Shippen a local beauty becomes close friends with the British commander John André, and second, when the Patriots retake the city and Peggy meets and marries Benedict Arnold, and then Arnold's ultimate betrayal of the patriots with André hung as a spy for helping Arnold in his attempt to surrender West Point to the British. (If this is a spoiler for you than, I'm sorry, but ...more
I like Rinaldi's writings but I felt the characters were flat in this story.
Sep 19, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 13 And Up
A fascinating story, told from Becca's point of view, a maid to Peggy Shippen...predestined wife of Benedict Arnold, the traitor to the United States of America during the American War for Independence. I LOVE this book!!

Here's a Snopsis that I found on by Bethany:

Fourteen year old Becca Syng feels like pieces of her are missing. So when her mother secures her a job as a maidservant in return for lessons in french, dancing, and needlepoint, she believes that it will help her find hers
Sarah Crawford
Feb 22, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing
This is subtitled A Story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold, as told from Becca's viewpoint. The book has 25 chapter and an epilogue, but the first 14 chapters have nothing to do with Benedict Arnold. They are the story of how Becca left her farm and began working as a maid/companion for Peggy Shippen, a very spoiled, very selfish, very demanding girl with other sisters.

The story is taking place during the Revolutionary War and shows how there were differences of opinion in the towns about
This was uneven. It started out OK, about Becca who lives on a farm outside Philadelphia in 1776 and is sent to become a servant for spoiled-brat Peggy Shippen. Once she's in the Shippen house, though, Becca slowly disappears and it becomes clear that the author has used her as a tool to show us Peggy Shippen's nasty behavior. Passages become spottily described, and it's hard to keep track of who is on the Patriots' side, who is on the British side, who is spying for whom, and who is a double ...more
Kathy Spada
Jun 18, 2016 Kathy Spada rated it it was amazing
This is another excellent YA novel of Historical Fiction by Ann Rinaldi. She once again weaves a believable story about Becca who becomes a maid for the Philadephia belle Peggy Shippen. The Shippen family were Quakers but Loyalists to the Crown. She dallies with Major John Andre of the British army but once he tires of her she meets the man of the hour, Benedict Arnold, her future husband.
I love the way Ann Rinaldi uses Becca who is partially at the Shippen residence to become "finished." But sh
Apr 06, 2008 Honoré added it
Recommends it for: people 12 and over
I just finished reading the book "Finishing Becca: A story about Peggy Shippen and Benedict Arnold" by Ann Rinaldi, for my Women’s History Month project. "Finishing Becca" takes place during the Revolutionary War. It is about a fourteen year-old girl named Becca Syng who becomes a maidservant for Peggy Shippen, a beautiful, wealthy and spoiled Quaker daughter. Her mom sends her to work for Peggy Shippen in hopes that Becca will receive a finishing education and find her “missing pieces.” Peggy ...more
Jun 02, 2014 Caroline rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, fiction
When my 5th grade son brought this book home as his reading group assignment, I found the story so interesting that I asked to borrow a copy so that I could read along. Initially, I found fictionalized story of Becca Syng, a lady's maid to Peggy Shippen during the American Revolutionary War, to be fairly compelling. But after awhile, about the time that Peggy turned coat to court Benedict Arnold, the story seemed to fall flat, with little historical detail and even less insight into Becca's ...more
Sandra Strange
Becca Syng goes into the Quaker Shippen household as Peggy Shippen’s lady’s maid to escape her harsh stepfather and to be “finished,” to learn the graces befitting a lady. She also wants to “finish” herself, since she feels like part of her is missing, an important part. She is embroiled in Peggy’s life, from her tumultuous romance with a British officer to her courtship, then marriage to Benedict Arnold. Becca witnesses the results of the marriage, momentous to American history, and to Becca’s ...more
Jun 09, 2012 Tgirl rated it really liked it
I don't always enjoy Ann Rinaldi's writing, but this one I really enjoyed (it wasn't as good as GIRL IN BLUE, of course). I even had a favorite quote: "And at night, just before I close my eyes, when I am in that limbo of half sleep, I see Peggy. I hear her gown rustling. And I hear her voice. 'Well, you've finished yourself now, Becca, haven't you?' And even half asleep, I murmur, 'No, Peggy, no. Because there's one thing I've learned above all. No one is ever finished. Are you?'"
Of course, you
Young Adult Historical Vault
Another Ann Rinaldi that didn't quite hold up as well as it did when I was a kid! In retrospect, this one suffers from some weird pacing issues and a lack of cohesion, but most of all, the classic Tell, Don't Show. The historical parts are pretty spot-on, except for a couple very minor nitpicks, but it reads more like a textbook trying to be thrilling than a great story begging to be told but including historical information.

For my full review including spoilers, check out Young Adult Historica
Jul 31, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still a great book. It does a good job of showing the Revolutionary War from the Mid Atlantic states' point of view. The best part is before Peggy Shippen marries Arnold. In this section, Rinaldi creates a complicated and interesting cast of characters. However, in the second section Becca, the servant girl for Peggy, starts oddly telling the future and what not. She has "a feeling" that Arnold is evil etc. Still, a great book reccomended for the high school or even college aged in order to get ...more
Aug 16, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Another excellent historical YA fiction from Rinaldi. I think the ending was a bit abrupt & contrived though - with Becca essentially summarising the conclusion in her chat to the milk cow. It would have been nice to draw out the final chapter of this into a longer section -- when she returns to learn the running of the farm, digest her time in town, a bit more about the wider war going on, and how she grows to love Frazor.
Nov 29, 2013 Sydney rated it really liked it
Another book on the revolution war. I love this time period. It makes for great stories. This book focused on the life of Peggy and the part in the betrayal of Benedict Arnold, through the eye's of Becca, Peggy's personal maid. I really loved Becca, and was really shocked at learning how the high class of the 1700's acted. Peggy was a brat, but a smart one.

So, my rating is more like 4.5. Almost five stars, but not quite five stars.
Marné Yates
Feb 18, 2012 Marné Yates rated it really liked it
I just love, love, love this book. I definitely consider it one of Ann Rinaldi's best. I feel like I'm in the story, walking the stairs and running my fingers through the satin dresses. Rinaldi does an amazing job of tying actual events into the life of an imaginary girl, and in the end, the reader is left wishing that she were real.

Warnings: The shameful act of kissing a girl in the middle of the street, in broad daylight.
May 22, 2012 Regina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-childhood
I love Ann Rinaldi's books. Her historical afterwords are always interesting and contain further information on the non-fictional subjects. Her stories are well written and plotted. I selected this one to add to my reads first since it's set in Philadelphia. I love how the contrast is shown between Peggy Shippen's life during the British occupation and after, and her struggle to maintain her social standing.
Aug 09, 2012 Suzanne rated it liked it
I found this in my daughter's room while cleaning out her book case and thought I would read it. A sweet read about a girl, whose mother sent her to live with a wealthy family because they were too poor to send Becca to a finishing school. It is her story as she became educated by the family in so many more ways than her mother had anticipated.
Dec 13, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
Ann Rinaldi is the one to read for early American historical fiction. She is very good with her research, and is very prolific! Choose a person or subject (Did Thomas Jefferson father a child by one of his slaves? to The Salem Witch trials) and she has probably written a book about it. Most of them can be found in the teen section, but don't let that turn you off.
Aug 01, 2010 Madeleine rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I liked this book. A nice, light read, filled with Peggy Shippen's delicious cattiness and general ignorance about the suffering world around her. Very interesting as Ann Rinaldi explores yet another side of the Revolution, the side seemingly left unaffected by the war, a side which inspires to feelings, one of near sympathy and one of disgust.
Jun 05, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing
i found this book rather hard to follow, yet quite compelling. It was interesting and gave you a sense of both Becca and Peggy's personalities. I love this book over all, it makes you feel like you are Becca Syng. I dont understand why Becca's mother married Henry though, he's a double agent and is almost never sober (or at least sane).
May 11, 2011 Janet rated it really liked it
since i am related to benedict i really wanted to see what made him tick. and of course it was his heart and peggy shippen. interesting to read about them. i have an arnold line in my fam tree . luckily he is not my direct ancestor ha. but he is definitely in the family. :0)
Dec 23, 2008 Victorianromantic rated it liked it
I had a rather venemous outlook on Benedict Arnold. He seemed to be a great asset to the American side, until his head was perhaps poisoned? It seems near nothing can explain the disarray of his betrayal, and the occupation of Philedelphia.
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What age were you when you read Ann Rinadi's books? 1 3 Oct 05, 2012 02:58PM  
  • Just Jane: A Daughter of England Caught in the Struggle of the American Revolution
  • Sarah Bishop
  • Beyond the Burning Time
  • The Dreamer, Volume 2
  • Five 4ths of July
  • Stowaway
  • Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolution
  • The Winter of Red Snow: The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777 (Dear America)
  • The Star Fisher
  • No Shame, No Fear (No Shame, No Fear #1)
  • Queen's Own Fool (Stuart Quartet, #1)
  • Hope's Crossing
  • Tituba of Salem Village
  • Soldier's Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson
  • North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad
  • Katherine: Heart of Freedom (Hearts and Dreams, #1)
  • A Bone From a Dry Sea
  • Wilderness Days (Boston Jane, #2)
Ann Rinaldi (b. August 27, 1934, in New York City) is a young adult fiction author. She is best known for her historical fiction, including In My Father's House, The Last Silk Dress, An Acquaintance with Darkness, A Break with Charity, and Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons. She has written a total of forty novels, eight of which were listed as notable by the ALA. In 2000, Wolf by the Ears was lis ...more
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