Book Reviews

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson Book Review

Fever 1793 is the story of a young girl’s experience during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. The author does a wonderful setting the scene for the horrific tragedy that ends up occurring. Fever 1793 is based on the actual yellow fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia and wiped out some five thousand people. One of the people affected by the fever is protagonist Mattie Cook. Mattie’s mother and grandfather own a coffeehouse in Philadelphia and that is where Mattie spends most of her days. She has plans of her own for the coffeehouse someday and often dreams of what it would be like when she runs the establishment. Mattie’s day dreams are shattered when the epidemic hits; Mattie’s mother falls ill with yellow fever, and Mattie and her grandfather flee the city to take refuge in the country. Since they never actually make it to their destination, uncontrollable hardships befall Mattie and her grandfather.

When Mattie finally returns to the city, she finds it deserted and the coffeehouse ransacked. Mattie tries to find the courage to manage her life and the coffeehouse after the yellow fever has taken everything away. Anderson does not shy away from the reality of life at that time, nor does she romanticize it. The reader can not help but realize how tough daily life was even before the fever swept the city. When the fever hits again for a second time, Anderson is thorough and realistic in her descriptions, without being excessively gory. Her story telling draws the reader in and puts him or her right next to Mattie. While mainly written to appeal to teenagers, this story is engrossing regardless of one’s age. If one has an interest in history this is definitely a book that he or she should read!

 

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