Rebecca Radnor's Reviews > The Secret of Sarah Revere

The Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi
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The story of Paul Revere/Boston's struggles/Lexington & Dr. Joesph Warren from the perspective of Revere's daughter Sarah, a 14 year old girl who is obsessed with the banalities of youth, and an inflated sense of her own importance, etc, in spite of the fact that she's sitting on the edge of history. Both she and her father have a secret and in her mind, they are of equal importance. In that respect, it offers a realistic portrayal of a pre-teen girl whose hormonal shifts rule her brain. You almost get the feeling that Rinaldi intends this book to stand as the feminine compliment to Johnny Tremain; in that, women were not allowed by the culture of that day to take part in the political realm so their focus was steadfastly seated on the feminine domain. This contrast offers a teaching opportunity regarding the domain of women in a society that firmly divided the roles of the genders, and a nice tangent into the same during the revolution.

The ending of the book is something of a major cop-out, I think Rinaldi reached the max for a young adult book and just needed to wrap it up; so it reminds me of conclusions I've written to papers where I didn't' really have a conclusion so I tried to say something profound as a way to mask the fact that I didn't really have a point. Forgiving that, it's a really good book.

A constant theme in the book is what matters more, what's true, or what people think. Paul Revere is constantly telling his daughter that what really matters is what is true. This is of course consistent with enlightenment ideals (what matters is what you can see with your eyes and test, not what authorities tell you to think about it).

The book also hints at social hierarchies at play in Boston at the time. While Revere was a member of the masons (an organization that promoted the ideals of the enlightenment that would go on to become the ideals of democracy) the fact was that Abigale Adams and the rest of the wives would not socialize with Revere's wife because she was not of the right social class (a fact which some historians point to for why Revere seems to drop out of the picture after the revolution, he wasn't high class enough to be considered part of the ruling body). In fact, Revere was so excluded that if it weren't for Longfellow's poem, there's a good chance Revere's role in history might have been forgotten to all but historians and antique collector's who specialize in colonial silver.

There are also some interesting psychological issues raised, such as the woman who is so frightened by, and in discordance with, her husbands patriotic involvement that in the search for security she takes to having affairs with Tories and British soldiers.

This is one of the more entertaining Rinaldi books. Rinaldi does civil war recreations in her spare time (events intended to be both fun for the participants and educational for the viewers); knowing this it is clear that she writes with this same double intent and constructs her books to double as history lessons. This is part of why I don't think there's anything accidental in her construction of female society in the colonies. Also, as a rule, if Rinaldi throws in a random name and event, you can be sure that if you goggle that person they are in fact a real person and might even have their own wikipedia page.
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