Terri DeMitchell’s latest novel for young adults, The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774 centers on three teenage friends in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the eve of the American Revolution. Each of them is forced to make choices about personal and family loyalties, choices that will affect the rest of their lives.
At the outset, Paul Revere has created panic by riding into town and claiming British regulars (soldiers) are on their way to seize the colony’s gun powder stored at Fort William and Mary. Is it true? Is Revere lying for his own interests? Or is the colonial governor who insists calm really just playing for time until the troops arrive?
In an atmosphere of fear and rumor, decisions must be made from which there might be no turning back. Schoolmates Joseph Reed, Jack Cochran and Andrew Beckett must each decide for themselves what is true, what is right, what must be done, and most important—who they will choose to be in life.
PRAISE FOR THE PORTSMOUTH ALARM: DECEMBER 1774
“DeMitchell has a talent for the small details that result in a vivid story. Readers feel the rush of the icy Piscataqua River as Beckett tries not to fall off the edge of a barge full of people and the strain of physical work. The story also avoids easy characterizations of heroes and villains…A worthwhile read that personalizes the conflicts that led to the American Revolution.”
“[The Portsmouth Alarm] is suitable for both individual reading and classroom use, and introduces students to complex events in an even-handed way that encourages them to draw their own conclusions and to make connections between the episode described in the book and other historical and contemporary events.”
Author of “The Seizure of His Majesty’s Fort William and Mary”
“A highly readable treatment of the ill-understood events surrounding the raids on Fort William and Mary; events that marked the opening of one colony’s armed rebellion against British authority. Although The Portsmouth Alarm is a fictionalized account of the little-known story of the raids, it encapsulates the events better than do many historical treatments . . .
The opening of the American Revolution was by its nature a confused affair, involving deep and sometimes conflicting emotions. It has often been claimed that one third of America was for the Revolution, one third was against it and one third was essentially undecided . . . DeMitchell’s book takes her readers into that world and, through her three main characters – Joseph Reed, Jack Cochran and Andrew Beckett – explores each of the three perspectives with sensitivity and an eye to historical accuracy . . . DeMitchell makes The Portsmouth Alarm a fine springboard for discussion. Her characters’ competing views effectively demonstrate why the situation in America at the beginning of the Revolutionary War has sometimes been called “the perfect crisis.”
Joseph J. Onosko
Ph.D., Associate Professor, Social Studies Theory & Methods, Department of Education, University of New Hampshire.
“DeMitchell’s riveting account of the Portsmouth rebellion invites readers to wrestle with the full spectrum of views on the appropriateness of this act of civil disobedience, as experienced by three teenagers whose personal relationships and lives will be forever altered. Social studies and language arts teachers committed to citizenship education through the analysis of public issues will appreciate the author’s detailed, eminently fair, and complex treatment of a most controversial event.”