Beverly B, March 2, 2013 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Rarely do I read YA books a second time, but this year's flu epidemic inspired me to re-read Laurie Halse Anderson's Fever 1793. It was even better the second time. Anderson's descriptions of how the yellow fever epidemic devastated families, towns and cities is gripping and historically accurate. The speed of the spread of the disease creates a fast paced plot centering around Mattie's struggle to survive. Powerless, homeless and struggling with overwhelming grieve, Mattie grows from a moody, dreamy, self-centered teen into a strong independent business woman. Fever is the perfect choice for readers who think they do not like historical fiction. They will be enthralled with the setting and inspired by Mattie.
Tina Blacksmith, March 5, 2012 (view all comments by Tina Blacksmith)
A great read about yellow fever. It follows a young girl, who at times, feels lost. This book is full of sadness, but at the end, there is a ray of hope. The facts about yellow fever are really interesting.
Effie, August 17, 2009 (view all comments by Effie)
This short narrative makes for a realistic read of a historical time period, when the yellow fever was running rampant in Philadelphia in 1793. The narrator is a young independent girl--probably moreso than she would have actually been allowed to be at the time, but it makes for a nice feminist punch for the person reading it today.
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megan s, June 14, 2009 (view all comments by megan s)
Fever 1793 features Matilda Cook a 14 year old girl in Philadelphia in (you guessed it) 1793. Mattie's widowed mother owns and runs the Cook Coffeehouse where important men of the city come to talk politics and enjoy coffee and the fare prepared by Eliza, a free black and friend of the family. At the beginning, Mattie is a typical young girl - more eager to have fun and disobey her mother than to pull her weight at the coffeehouse. As summer is very slowly drawing to a close, disaster strikes as a deadly yellow fever epidemic sweeps the city. The city devolves into chaos and Mattie's life is torn asunder when her mother takes ill. The epidemic forces Mattie to grow up fast as she is left almost alone in a city that seems to be slowly dying. As the first frost comes, effectively ending the fever, and Mattie has still not heard from her mother, Mattie is forced to make some difficult decisions about her future and the future of the coffeehouse.
Mattie is an engaging narrator. It's easy to relate to her desire to leave behind the backbreaking work of the coffeehouse and enjoy her life. Halse Anderson does a fine job of portraying how Mattie changes during the epidemic and gains a new inner strength that she is able to draw upon to pick up her life once the epidemic has ended. Philadelphia in 1793 is realistically portrayed both in health and in sickness. Halse Anderson has obviously gone to great pains to maintain the historical accuracy of her story and succeeds admirably. Included at the end is a very interesting appendix that elaborates on the factual elements of the story. Fever 1793 is great historical novel about a girl transcending her very dire circumstances and finding out who she is in the process.
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Robert Zupperoli, January 31, 2009 (view all comments by Robert Zupperoli)
Historical Fiction is becoming a great way to teach history in elementary school. It teaches reading, comprehension, and exposes children to a great genre. This book by Laurie Anderson, is beautifully written, the images are great, and the historical facts are spot on. I loved reading this book and used it in conjunction with Johnny Tremain. These gave perspectives of this period in American history from the view of young people. The kids related to these books in ways they would not to a text. I would use and read this book every year. Purchase and use this book if you teach; it's a great story about a girl's relationship with her mother, grandfather and friends.
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In 1793, the Cook Coffeehouse outside Philadelphia is a haven for those fleeing from the fever sweeping across the mosquito-infested city. Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook has just lost her childhood playmate to the fever and struggles to keep her family and her family's business alive.
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