The Fifth of March Book Poster Image

The Fifth of March

So-so historical fiction mixed with romance.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Some minor characters speak disrespectfully of Crispus Attucks, the black man killed in the Boston Massacre. The main character defies authority to sneak out at night and visit a prisoner.


Mildly describes the Boston Massacre.


A few references to women being "in circumstances," meaning "pregnant." Matthew's sexual frustration is hinted at.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a romance with the Boston Massacre as a backdrop.

What's the story?

Rachel works as an indentured servant to John and Abigail Adams in Boston during the early 1770s. She admires them greatly, but falls in love with Matthew, a British soldier who kills an American in the Boston Massacre. Rachel can't decide where her loyalties lie. Many kids will enjoy reading this, and they'll learn some history along the way.


Is it any good?


Ann Rinaldi has been tempting teenagers to read romances and learn some real history for over a decade; this doesn't stand out as her best effort, but it's a useful book. Rinaldi often writes in sentence fragments. The deliberately choppy writing style slows the pace of the book, but Rachel's inner struggle for independence still holds many readers' attention.

Rinaldi devotes most of the book to Rachel's evolving thinking. Except for a few riots, the incidents culminating in the Boston Massacre don't occur until more than halfway into the story. Rachel, Boston, the Revolution, romance, and the concept of independence dominate the story. Rachel's movement toward her own liberty mirrors the evolution of the "plain Americans."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the heroine's conflicted loyalties. What does independence mean for Rachel?

Book details

Author:Ann Rinaldi
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Brace
Publication date:November 30, 1993
Number of pages:333
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 14

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Teen, 17 years old Written byamazing grace April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written bysunnysideup7685 May 14, 2011

Best Historical Fiction

I had to read this book in fifth grade when we learned about the American Revolution. Ann Rinaldi, is a great author who transports her readers right into the heat and heart of the A.R. She uses real characters and events from history and mixes them with her own characters and plot. In this book she takes the story of Rachel Marsh a servant at John and Abagail Adams house and shows what it was like living in Boston, before and during the Boston Massacre. While Rinaldi is a good author she always adds things into her books that make them iffy for readers 13 and under. In this book the British soldiers use a few words. And while Rachel's romance with a British private Matthew Kilroy is not sexual or explicit in anyway. The feelings and ups and downs that Matthew and Rachel go through, young readers won't understand. Other than that I defenitely recommend this book, you'll want to reread and reread this book. Not to mention you'll never forget what happand during the Boston Massacre.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 14 year old Written byPoncho93 February 28, 2010

The best book that I have ever read!!!

This is the best book that I have ever read!! Ann Rinaldi is an amazing author that paints a very realistic back drop for her heart felt writings. Yes there is a little bit of romance in this story but is very innocently done and the main character handles every romantic situation very maturely and respectfully. When I have a daughter I would be proud to have her handle the situations with boys in her life this way. and yes she does sneak out of the house a couple of times but when she is caught she admits to what she was doing, apologies for it then she faces the consequence in a very mature way. I hated reading before this book but it showed me that reading can be a very rewarding experience. (It does have a few words that the other solders use so I think that you should be 12 or 13 before you read it.)
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models