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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Fifth of March by Ann Rinaldi

The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre by Ann Rinaldi
Great Episodes Series
Unabridged, 7 hr. 30 min.
Audio Bookshelf
Melissa Hughes (narrator)
April 28, 2004
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Downloaded the audio from my library
“Rachel Marsh, an indentured servant in the household of John Adams, believes she is well treated, and greatly admires Abigail and John Adams. Although not political herself, she worries about friends who support rebellion and have told her that a time will come when she will have to take a stand. It is only when she meets Matthew Kilroy, a young, argumentative British soldier who has been sent to Boston as part of a peacekeeping force, that Rachel begins to question British domination of the colonies and to see herself as an American.”
Growing up my favorite author was hands down Ann Rinaldi. I owned probably about a dozen or so of them and I would frequently borrow those that I didn’t own from the school library. After about age 15 I got distracted by other books and really forgot all about this author until a few weeks ago. I was exploring the author’s website for a feature I was doing on YA Historical Fiction and realized that she has still been releasing books, almost every year, and still is. This made me want to take some time to get back to reading those books I loved – this time on audio book.

The Fifth of March is a story of the events in Boston that lead up to the Boston Massacre, the event itself, the trial of those British soldiers, and some of the outcomes of this conflagration. But it is also the story of Rachel dealing with figuring out who she is – does she still see herself as a British American or just a plain American (to use her own words)? It is a really interesting question – when do you start to see yourself as something different? You get to see Rachel really starting to open her eyes to what is happening around her and see how it affects her. I also really loved the sweet, little romance that developed. You really were able to see how this put added stress on a young girl too.

The author does an awesome job at giving the reader a visual layout of Boston. She also has a great ability to convey the drama, hysteria, tension, panic and drive to choose sides that enveloped Boston during that time.

Although this book is written for a primarily high school audience, I enjoyed it immensely. The historical facts and events were not brought down a level and would still be very enjoyable for an adult reader. This is a coming of age story with a teenage narrator – but also consider, people had to grow up a lot faster back then and were encountering situations that many teens wouldn’t be today.


I have to say that I didn’t love this narrator. The way she read for the main character of Rachel made the character seem dumb. Having read this in paperback several years ago I had never gotten that impression – a little na├»ve, yes, but not the way this narrator made me feel about the character. The narrator did do a good job at evoking the feelings of the story and the world the characters were living in – the fear and panic. I think it would have been a more enjoyable listening experience with a different narrator.

You can check out a preview of the book from Google Preview to get a taste of the writing style – even with some pages omitted.  You can listen to a sample of the book as well (links to Audible).
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Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia 

Also by Ann Rinaldi
Author Ann Rinaldi has written dozens of YA historical fiction books. You can check out my post Books by Ann Rinaldi for a detailed listing of many of her books.

a break with charity
A Break with Charity
[My Review]

Find Ann Rinaldi: Website 

Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great review! I truly like the sound of this book, as I've recently become hooked on this time period. It's too bad the narrator wasn't so good, but the story matters and I'm glad the story appealed to you. I'd definitely read this one.

    P.S. Do you happen to know any (other) good books taking place during America's struggle for independence?

  2. Irena - There are a couple I can think of off the top of my head. Bernard Cornwell has written two - The Fort (about the Penobscot expedition during the war) and Redcoat (about the British occupation of Philadelphia from the british perspective). I haven't read either of these but I have loved other books by him. Also a couple other Ann Rinaldi's - A Ride into Morning (a story of the legend of Tempe Wick - I have read and enjoyed this one), The Secret of Sarah Revere (daughter of Paul Revere - also very good), and Or Give Me Death (about Patrick Henry and his family).

  3. Too bad about the narrator, Heather, but still the story sounds very good. Loved your review...and now I'm going to check out this author. I'm also discovering that YA Hf and am liking it a lot. Thanks for introducing a new author for me:)

  4. Lucy - I am finding YA hist-fic more enjoyable again. She has written so many books, I hope you find a few that you enjoy!

  5. Heather, thank you very much for the suggestions!

  6. The Fifth of March sounds like a fascinating read - you've caught my interest with this one :}. Thanks for sharing and writing a great review. Another historical fiction novel you might enjoy that I just finished is called, The Scorpion's Bite by Aileen G. Baron. Set in the Middle East during WWII, the story follows Lily, an archeologist, and Gideon, director of the American School of Archeology in Jerusalem, as they travel into the Trans-Jordan region. Gideon is framed for murder, which really puts the story on edge as Lily must help him clear his name. Baron is a wonderful writer who really knows her stuff when it comes to archeology and history.

  7. Audrey - I will have to check that book out, thanks for the recommendation.


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