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Sarah's Ground


Sarah's Ground

This historical novel, set during the tumultuous times of the Civil War, profiles the work of Sarah Tracy, a young woman who is determined to lead an independent life. Sarah is tired of her family's constant supervision and their reminders that it's time for her to find a suitable husband. So she lies to her family and potential employer in order to secure a position as caretaker of Mount Vernon, George Washington's former home.

Sarah's struggle to keep Mount Vernon's grounds neutral, practically sitting on the border of the North and South and within miles of bloody conflicts, brings her into contact with famous figures from the Civil War, including Abraham Lincoln. She must decide how to handle the African-American servants working at Mount Vernon, whose status is unclear. She also has to work closely with Upton Herbert, a gracious Southern gentleman who becomes very important to her.

Ann Rinaldi, a historical re-enactor herself, certainly knows how to make the past interesting. Her main characters are three-dimensional and relatable; teens will be able to sympathize with Sarah and understand why she is so annoyed with her family. It's a shame though that the Epilogue feels the need to defend Rinaldi's artistic license. Most people should understand that a historical novel might embellish a story to make it interesting to the modern reader.

The author explains in the Epilogue that she invented the storyline of Sarah's friend Mary and their argument over Upton Herbert. Stories in which women argue over a man are disappointing and should almost always be avoided. Luckily, though, this story has enough going for it to overcome that problem. The Epilogue does refer to Sarah and Upton's future, answering questions that readers will no doubt want answered.

Ann Rinaldi once again brings to vivid life a slice of little-known American history in a way that will have readers wanting to learn more about Mount Vernon and Sarah's history.


Reviewed by Amy Alessio on October 18, 2011

Sarah's Ground
by Ann Rinaldi

  • Publication Date: July 26, 2005
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 0689859252
  • ISBN-13: 9780689859250