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

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,282 ratings  ·  110 reviews
See, through the eyes of two of Patrick Henry's children, the secrets and horror going on within their home as their father rouses a nation to arms.
Hardcover, 223 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Turtleback Books (first published July 4th 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,010)
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Sara
The idea behind Or Give me Death is based on the real lives of Patrick Henry's family. The mom in the family (named Sara, which gave me the willies) goes crazy. Of course, this is 1774, and there's no mental health care to be found. Instead, the family refurbishes their cellar and locks her down there. She spends four years (FOUR YEARS!) locked in the cellar before she dies. AGH!

The story is told from the POV of the eldest two of Sara's daughters, but I think that was an authorial mistake. The s
...more
NSAndrew Liebergen
First off, I find this time in history very interesting. Now that I said that, I was completely blown away by the story of this book. The famous Patrick Henry has a wife that has a mental illness. He keeps her locked up in the cellar. Anne, one of the siblings has the secret knowledge of who will inherit her mother’s illness. The older sibling Patsy only longs to get married and live a life of privilege and pampering, while the younger 9 year old Anne, who narrates the second part of the story s ...more
Kellyn

We seldom consider the cost paid by the families of the men considered heroes. Patrick Henry worked tirelessly to help guide the colony of Virginia as it moved toward independence. His family suffered from his long absences; it was especially difficult for his wife, Sarah. As a result their daughter, Patsy, ended up caring for the children and the plantation, including the slaves. Patsy describes her mother’s decline into mental illness, the restlessness of her family’s slaves, and her own resen
...more
Tristi
I'm a huge, huge, huge Ann Rinaldi fan and so of course I snatched this one up when I saw it. It's the story of Patrick Henry's home life, and doesn't focus nearly as much on Henry as it does his wife and children, but during this era, Henry was gone often defending others and laying the groundwork for our nation. In the meantime, his wife suffered a severe mental collapse and attempted to drown her newborn son.

Patsy, the Henry's oldest daughter, is the point of view character for the first half
...more
Emma S.
When I read Or Give Me Death by Ann Rinaldi, I felt as if I was always looking past a drawn curtain, looking at things that weren't meant to be seen. In Patrick Henry's household, his wife has gone insane and has been locked in the basement to be kept from harm. Only one child, Anne, knows who will inherit this madness, but no one knows if she is telling the truth about it. There are secrets kept hidden among all the family members. In truth, this book was mysterious -- revealing things I never ...more
Art
Greater insight to the Words, "Give me liberty or Give me Death!" statement by Patrick Henry.
Insight to life on the frontier of the South and Plantation life.
Anna
I cried at the end of this book!!
Janie Johnson
This is really only my second historical novel I have ever read. And also my first book by this author. I did quite enjoy this story for the most part. I did feel as though it got away from the main plot just a little bit as I thought from the synopsis that it was, for the most part, going to be about Patrick Henry's wife locked in the cellar. Part of the story was about that but I feel like it was not the main plot line in story. I think the main idea of the story was more about when to lie and ...more
Janie
This was my first Ann Rinaldi, and I have several more of her books that I look forward to reading. I'm always a little skeptical about reading juvenile fiction, historical or otherwise, at this stage of my life, but this was an engaging read.

Rinaldi is a self-made writer. She was groomed for that position with years of reading and writing in her job as a newspaper columnist. Her interest in historical fiction was fed from the urging of her son and her participation in his various interests in
...more
(NS) Brea M
Gr. 7-9. One of the few novels to deal with the problem of insanity in early America, this opens in 1771, as Patrick Henry's 16-year-old daughter, Patsy, realizes that her mother is going insane. When Mrs. Henry's actions threaten the lives of her two youngest children, the family shut her away in a cellar room for the safety of all and to hide her dementia from the larger community. In 1773, Patsy's younger sister, Anne, takes over the narration, which concludes in 1778 with the breakdown of he ...more
Kayna Olsen
This is the story of Patrick Henry's family told from the perspectives of his two older daughters Patsy and Anne. Their mother Sarah has gone mad and the story begins with her attempting to drown Edward the newest arrival to the family. Patsy is betrothed but worries of inheriting her mother's sickness. Anne, younger than her has been told by their mother which child will inherit her madness. Anne then struggles through the book with questions about when to tell the truth and when to lie in orde ...more
Hannah
Oh Ann Rinaldi, how I've missed you! I didn't even realize it until I read this book, hoping that I wouldn't discover that, though you seemed like a wonderful writer when I was a teenager, I didn't like you that much as an adult. Fortunately, you have absolutely confirmed my liking of you.

First, the plot is fascinating, and surprisingly intricate, not just about Patrick Henry's wife going crazy, but about his daughters dealing with the fallout of keeping her basically imprisoned in the home in
...more
Seahee Park
This book was such a great historical fiction novel. I really admire the idea of writing in two different perspectives. Most of the people only remember Patrick Henry by things he accomplished in politics. However, this book focuses on his family and how they supported him. It was pity that all the women back in the days were always alone at home, just standing behind their husband, and never showing their feelings. Even Patrick Henry wasn't a demanding man, he was too less careful and too occup ...more
Lola
Ann Rinaldi is a fantastic writer, and I've never not enjoyed one of her novels. They are all fascinating and exceptionally well researched, and Or Give Me Death was no different. The story starts in the eldest Henry daughter Patsy's narrative just when Sarah Henry is starting to lose her mind. I thought it was really interesting to see how mental illness was handled back then, especially in a family where the dad was famous and their reputation important. Rinaldi always does a great job of pro ...more
Constance
I have come to expect so much more from Ann Rinaldi. She was the first author to introduce me to the world of historical fiction. When I first started to read vigorously my aunt gifted me with the Ann Rinaldi book 'an aquantice with darkness" and after that I moved through the rest of her series rather rapidly. My favorite one to this day would be a 'break with charity' which explored the Salem witch trials. All of the novels that I have read by Rinaldi so far have female narrators, and "Or give ...more
Ruth Anne
This historical fiction book was well written from two different point of views. Patrick Henry's wife(Sara)has gone mad, and because this is 1700's, no mental care is available. Instead of sending her to an asylum, they refurnish their cellar and lock her down there for four years until she dies, crying for them to give her freedom or give her death. While their mother is in the cellar, the family slowly falls apart, and the different ways the two sisters (the two narrators) try to repair its br ...more
Ashley
This is very possibly my least favorite of all Ann Rinaldi books I've come across. I wasn't overly impressed with the writing, the story line, or the characters. I never felt a true connection to the characters, and the girl who narrated the story in the beginning was obnoxious. I never liked her, and it is hard to enjoy a story when you don't like who is talking to you. I know it's probably pretty shallow- but if I listen to someone talking, and I don't like their speaking voice, I won't like t ...more
Kailia
Another Rinaldi and another historical novel. I have to admit that this was not one of my favorites (even if I've only read three of her books).

I did love the topic though. In school we're talked about these words "Give me liberty, or give me death." Quiet honestly I didn't know, or even think for a second, that Patrick Henry's wife might have said these words. And that she was insane? This was another thoughtful, engaging book that led us into the lives of the Henry household. With sister Patsy
...more
Tyler Johnson
I very much enjoyed this book. I grew up quite near to Scotchtown and spent days there playing and dreaming, so the stories of Sarah Shelton are familiar to me. Rinaldi captures the grounds of the lovely old house and its dreary cellar, as well as the winds of change blowing up through Williamsburg. This would be a great book for a young person interested in Patrick Henry and the challenges faced by people in colonial Virginia. The central imagining is an inventive one and has caused me to refle ...more
Bayla
Buzzwords: Historical fiction, shifting POV, revolutionary war, insanity, family

Told in two parts, each from a different point of view, Or Give Me Death is the story of Patrick Henry's family - his mad wife, locked in the cellar, and what her illness and confinement did to their family, even as Patrick Henry fought for America and its freedom. I never knew anything about Patrick Henry's family before,so learning about them was very interesting - don't miss the author's note at the end that expla
...more
Jen Bojkov
This is a fascinating look at the Henry family told through the eyes of his second oldest daughter. With possible mental illness in the family, and of course the unrest of the times, there is plenty of drama to go around. I'm not sure how interesting this would be to teens, but I enjoyed it as an adult.
Laura
I enjoy everything that Ann Rinaldi writes. I appreciate that her young adult fiction addresses weighty issues. Each book has a theme, a question that it asks the reader to deeply ponder. She lets us as the reader decide what is real, what is true. She doesn't preach.

This is the story of Patrick Henry's family. The events of the Revolutionary war are overshadowed by family tragedy: After the birth of their 6th child, Patrick's wife has gone mad. In order to protect her and the children, the fami
...more
Kristen
Actual rating: 2.5 stars.

This book was pretty good. It had a good topic and a good plot. The first half was narrated by Patsy, Patrick Henry's eldest daughter. That was fine. I liked her character, and her personality coupled with the events she was dealing with made it easy to sympathize with her. But the 2nd half killed this book for me. Anne, another daughter was narrating, and her character was annoying, whiny, and didn't have respect for what other members of the house were going through. I
...more
E.
I enjoyed this, as I do most of Rinaldi's work, but I'm not sure how well the narrative conceit worked. This could easily have been two whole novels, not one novel split into two novellas. I didn't get enough of either story to feel anything for this family.
Courtney
This was my least favorite of Ann Rinaldi's novels, I was suprised at my lack of intrest in this book. The only thing that kept me reading was wanting to know who was to get the metal illness. I hated patsy, and I think it takes real skill, may it be poor skill or great, to make a character that is the narrator unlikeable. I was annoyed by her and her sterness, I know that was the vocalpoint of the story but she agitated me to the point of almost stopping to read. I liked Anne better, but she ag ...more
Jaynann
AUTHOR PRESENTATION READING
I loved the complexity of this novel. It was separated in two halves and with two narrators. Each narrator was a daughter of Patrick Henry and each deals with her own issues. Mrs. Henry goes crazy in the story and each girl has to deal with what that means for her life and her future. In the end, the mental illness does its part to tear apart the family and bring them closer together. I loved the deepness of this book. I felt like Rinaldi didn't just brush over the in
...more
Susan
This is the story of Patrick Henry's family. It tells how his wife became insane after the birth of her last child. She became a threat to herself and to her children. The only thing they could think of doing to keep her and them safe was to lock her in the basement; and, as she got worse and worse, they had to keep her in a straight jacket (dress).

It shows the devastation this brought to the family. The oldest daughter had to take over running the family and the house because Henry was gone mos
...more
Erica
This book changed my life when my teacher read it to us in fifth grade. I've seen a lot of complaints about how the book was told with two different narrators. But that was made me think. Until then, I'd always thought there was only one right perspective in a situation. If you get in a fight, somebody has to be wrong. As soon as Anne's part started, I asked myself over and over again, "Which sister is right?" Is Patsy an overworked, long-sufferer plagued by bratty, butterfly-biting Anne? Or is ...more
Jennifer W
An interesting look at the home life of Patrick Henry's family. The book follows two of his daughters as they try to live with the realities of life around them: their father being hugely involved in the birth of America and their mother being locked away in the cellar because she is suffering from a mental illness. I felt Rinaldi combined various historical aspects well, the plight of woman at that time, the life of slaves, and the sacrifices made for America. The only thing I felt detracted a ...more
Kristi
A very moving work of historical fiction of young adults which asks difficult questions about rationality and insanity, truth and falsehood, and the meaning of liberty. I was spellbound by the second half.
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BYU-Adolescent Li...: Or Give Me Death 1 5 Jun 10, 2013 10:55AM  
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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
More about Ann Rinaldi...
A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials Time Enough for Drums Girl in Blue The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre The Last Silk Dress

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“When a woman's face is wrinkled
And her hairs are sprinkled,
With gray, Lackaday!
Aside she's cast,
No one respect will pay;
Remember, Lasses, remember.
And while the sun shines make hay:
You must not expect in December,
The flowers you gathered in May.”
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