Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 441
Ann (Feis) Rinaldi was born on August 27, 1934, in New York City and attended high school in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Married to Ronald Rinaldi in 1960, with whom she has two children: a boy and a girl. A writer since her youth, Rinaldi created stories even while she...
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Ann (Feis) Rinaldi was born on August 27, 1934, in New York City and attended high school in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Married to Ronald Rinaldi in 1960, with whom she has two children: a boy and a girl. A writer since her youth, Rinaldi created stories even while she was, as she states, "house bound" with her babies. Her first published young adult novel, Term Paper, began as a ten-thousand word short story about a fourteen-year-old protagonist. That, plus her next two novels, fall under the category of contemporary realistic fiction. The works deal with such modern issues as peer pressure, teen-age dating, birth control, and a girl's search for identity.
When Rinaldi completed But in the Fall I'm Leaving, a moving story about a fourteen-year-old girl who must choose between living with her busy newspaperman father or a mother she has never really known, Rinaldi herself made a choice: She began writing historical fiction. She has, in her successive novels, focused primarily on teenage protagonists living during an American war period.
In her acknowledgment remarks in Time Enough for Drums and Wolf by the Ears, Rinaldi credits her "addiction" to American history to her son, Ron, an American history buff; yet the author's own profession lends itself to American studies. Since 1970 Rinaldi has worked as a columnist for the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper, The Trentonian and has herself been awarded first prize in the New Jersey Press Awards. When Rinaldi covered the bicentennial events in Trenton and Princeton, she embarked on her long-term involvement in "living" history through reenactments. During the writing of Time Enough for Drums, a novel about a fifteen- year-old girl who sees her family and her hometown of Trenton torn apart by fighting, Rinaldi was spending several weekends with her family participating in battle scene re-enactments and encampments.
Because Rinaldi writes about "real life as I know it," her vision is often complex; and, at times, ambiguous: There is not only one right answer to a problem. Decisions can involve loss as well as gain. Her fiction encourages readers to ask probing questions about one's place in family, about one's feelings for oneself, and about one's relationship to the place where one lives one's city and one's country.
Time Enough for Drums, The Last Silk Dress, and A Break with Charity were named Best Books for Young Adults by the American Library Association. Of the latter, critic Zena Sutherland remarks how Rinaldi continues to examine "strong stuff." Moreover, as Sutherland states: "The Last Silk Dress is interesting not only for its theme and story, but also for the evidence it gives of Ms. Rinaldi's respect for her adolescent audience."