The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre

Written by Ann Rinaldi
Review by Wendy A. Zollo

The Fifth of March is essentially a pre-Revolutionary War tale about the value of forming our own choices and the uncertainty that accompanies growing up. Rachel Marsh is a twelve year old indentured servant at the beginning of this novel. She is as lucky in her establishment as she is ill-fated in her sole remaining family member, the crucial, predictable, corrupt and wicked uncle. She is (and was in reality) the nursemaid to John and Abigail Adams. Abigail, an intelligent and forward thinking woman, mentors the young Rachel with books and unfettered opinions. While she is on her quest “to better herself,” she meets up with many of the pivotal figures of the Boston Massacre, such as Henry Knox, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. Central to Rachel’s saga is her friendship with a young redcoat who becomes involved in the Massacre, causing Rachel even more confusion as she makes her mind up about liberty, civil actions and personal and national freedom and identity.

Rinaldi writes in a compelling and colorful fashion without drawing on dramatics. The Boston Massacre and its consequences are presented in an evenly flowing and captivating way that should keep a young reader’s attention. Ages 10-14