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

Written by Ann Rinaldi
Review by Carol Anne Germain

This young adult novel is based on Patrick Henry’s family and set between 1771 and 1778. Rather than focusing on this founding father’s adventures, Rinaldi brings his family to life utilizing two sibling voices: Patsy and Anne Henry. Patsy, the eldest daughter, describes the tragedies, problems, and secrets of the family, including the devastating mental breakdown of Patrick’s wife, Sarah. In contrast, the highly spirited Anne provides a more heroic view of family members and even credits her mother for the infamous patriotic quote, “Give me liberty or give me death.” This energetic girl strives to keep peace in the family and frequently asks herself, “Do you tell the truth when it will hurt someone you love?” A hard question for anyone, yet much more difficult for a child to answer. Rinaldi sets up a nice tension between the two sisters, which strongly engages the reader. While the author took many fictional liberties in the development of this story, it is clear that she did do her research. Her final notes highlight the historical facts utilized in writing this enjoyable tale. Ages 10-14