A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials

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9780152046828: A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials

Susanna desperately wants to join the circle of girls who meet every week at the parsonage. What she doesn't realize is that the girls are about to set off a torrent of false accusations leading to the imprisonment and execution of countless innocent people. Susanna faces a painful choice. Should she keep quiet and let the witch-hunt panic continue, or should she "break charity" with the group--and risk having her own family members named as witches?
Reader's guide included.

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About the Author:

ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. She has received numerous starred reviews and awards, as well as widespread recognition for her historical novels. Ms. Rinaldi lives in central New Jersey.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Why, in 1692, did Salem execute 22 citizens accused by hysterical girls? Various causes--political, economic, scientific--have been advanced; Rinaldi makes a plausible case for a combination of these with the repression of a society with few amusements, late marriages, and young adults treated as children. As a wise old woman says here, ``...the spirit it took to tame this wilderness is so strong it would not bow to the authority of the Puritan covenant...They see this...as a failure of their vision. So they seek to lay blame.'' Rinaldi chooses as narrator Susanna English, ancestor of Nathaniel Hawthorne, fictionalizing her role of a fascinated, horrified observer who's told, early on, by ringleader Ann Putnam that the girls are deliberately seeking attention and power; Susanna keeps silent lest her own family be accused. The device works well as Susanna tries to negotiate with Ann; sees her parents accused despite her promise; falls in love with Magistrate Hathorne's son and persuades him of the ``witches' '' innocence; is taken in by Joseph Putnam, who is secretly encouraging opposition; and finally shares her knowledge, only to have her certainty challenged by prophecies that, amazingly, come true: ``...the line is thin between what is fanciful and what is real.'' Rinaldi's characterizations aren't subtle, but she has done her research well and fashioned an enthralling, authentic story that makes the results of compounding malicious lies with false confessions of terrified victims tragically believable. Fine historical fiction; Rinaldi at her best. Bibliography; excellent note sorting out fact and fiction. (Fiction. 11-17) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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