NSAndrew Liebergen's Reviews > Or Give Me Death: A Novel of Patrick Henry's Family

Or Give Me Death by Ann Rinaldi
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Nov 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction
Read in November, 2009

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 seems to be filled with intelligence, insight and wisdom. Patsy over the years treats Anne horribly with the understanding that Anne has her mother’s “Madness”. Throughout the book, Anne wrestles with her decision to keep the secret. This is a great book for teens. It offers up many opportunities for higher level thinking and discussions. I believe books about children making emotional, deep choices can be a wonderful asset to any classroom library. Though I would want to by 30 copies of this and read it as a whole class, with breakout sessions to discuss Anne’s many decisions. I also think this would be a great augmentation text to give a human feel, when studying this time period. Students need to see it is not only the men making the laws and the men fighting the war, by the families affected back home.
Some other reviewers have stated that Henry’s statement of “Give me liberty, or give me death”, was actually first cried by his wife pleading to be released from confinement. I don’t know about this fact. It seems a little to “movie like” to be truth.
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