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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
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A YA historical novel about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. A good representation of the nearly apocalyptic scene and the struggles of dealing with the threat of death of oneself and loved ones. ( )
  snash | Aug 29, 2018 |
Another excellent historical novel by L.H. Anderson. Recommended for ages 10 and up. ( )
  valorrmac | May 15, 2018 |
Philadelphia, 1793. The once bustling capital city is now a shell of its former self. Gripped by yellow fever, thousands are dead and dying, thousands more have fleed for the safety of the countryside. The raw emotion of this time in our history is truly felt within the pages. Based on true events, this is a must for historical fiction readers. ( )
  amyghilton | May 11, 2018 |
Anderson took the yellow fever epidemic in 1793 and created a story of what a young woman might've had to deal with to survive and titled it "Fever 1793." Matilda is a fourteen year old who lives with her mother and grandfather running a coffee shop with the help of Eliza. At first it's just a few people dying of yellow fever, but then it turns into the hundreds very quickly. The fever spread rapidly due to extreme heat and mosquitoes carrying the disease. Some people escaped to the country side, but most weren't so lucky. Matilda's mother comes down with the fever and forces Matilda and her grandfather to leave and go to the countryside. The problem is that the countryside rejected them and so the pair had to survive on their own for many days with grandfather falling ill and Matilda then getting yellow fever. Matilda survived due to the French doctor's mindset that to kill the yellow fever the sick had to get fresh air as opposed to Dr. Rush's opinion that the victims needed to be drained of four bowls of their blood to get the disease out of their system. Once Matilda recovers, her and her grandfather go back to their home. During a robbery of the closed up coffee house Matilda's grandfather dies and Matilda's mother is gone to the countryside to rest from surviving the yellow fever. In the end, thousands die, Matilda's mother comes back, and Matilda learned how much she can survive. The lesson behind this book is to never doubt your own abilities because whatever you want to do you can as long as your mind is set on it. Matilda took care of her grandfather until he passed, survived the yellow fever, adopted a young child who lost her mother to the fever, and owned and ran the coffee house with Eliza once everyone came back from the countryside. She never thought she'd be strong enough to go through all that, but she was. It takes awful and painful times for people to realize just how strong they are. Even though the book was fiction it depicted the epidemic, the battle of the doctors, how many died, the fear and panic, and who it affected perfectly. At the beginning of each chapter it had blurbs from people's journals who wrote about the epidemic such as, J. Henry C. Helmuth, Benjamin Franklin, and Dr. Benjamin Rush. Some parts were very graphic specifically about the draining of blood so I wouldn't recommend giving this to a child who has a weak stomach about things such as that. This book is a much better way to learn about yellow fever than in a textbook. Great read, I couldn't put it down. ( )
  CassieHurley | Mar 10, 2018 |
Laurie Halse Anderson is the best and I will read anything and everything she’s written. On top of that, I enjoy historical fiction that’s well-researched and written in such a way that you can actually learn something about a topic, which most middle grade historical fiction does really well, so Fever 1793 was a must-read for me. I’m so glad I’ve finally gotten to it.

Mattie Cook wants so much to not be treated like a kid and be able to have more free time and more real responsibility, instead of dealing with the tedious chores she’s always given by her mom. She helps her mom and her grandfather run the family coffee shop, but her life is thrown into chaos when a fever starts spreading around Philadelphia and people start dying, moving away, and staying away. The city becomes a ghost town, where only the very sick or dead have decided to stay; there’s hardly any food or fresh water, and thieves prowl the city to steal valuables from abandoned homes.

This book is INTENSE. Anderson picked a subject that really needs no dressing up or melodrama added; it’s a terrifying story about how helpless we are in the face of disasters, and yet hopeful in the way it shows Mattie working together with her neighbors to help out those in need. Mattie shows amazing development and comes into her own; she certainly grows up, though it’s not the way any of her family members imagined. She takes on the responsibility for caring for some of the sick and getting herself through into the winter months when the fever will die off.

Besides the story itself, I really enjoyed the historical tidbits of including how the capital is in Philadelphia at this point, so Mattie dreams of seeing Washington (the president!) in the coffee shop. There’s also some nice touch of romance — just a hint — that adds some dimension to the story. The text itself is very readable and inviting; this would be a great book for middle school, or a nice lower-level reading option for high school students who are given a choice in texts. It’s great because though the text is approachable, there is so much great information and historical fact included, which I love. It’s not “dumbed down” at all.

I can see why this is taught in so many classrooms; it’d be such a great book to read during a unit on American history, studying how disease spreads. It’s incredibly informative and Anderson includes her notes in the back about stuff she researched and stuff she fudged to make it all fit as a cohesive story. I really enjoyed this and recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the fever of 1793 through an entertaining story, or for someone who just likes historical fiction.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Feb 16, 2018 |
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Epigraph
The City of Philadelphia is perhaps one of the wonders of the world. —Lord Adam Gordon, 1795
Oh then the hands of the pitiful Mother prepared her Child's body for the grave... —Letter of Margaret Morris, 1793
Dedication
This book is for my father, Reverend Frank A. Halse Jr, the finest man I know.
First words
I woke to the sound of a mosquito whining in my left ear and my mother screeching in the right.
Quotations
A hot wind blew trash and dirt through the abandoned stalls. It looked like an enormous broom had swept away all the people.
"A field plowed by the devil," I murmured. "They're not even using coffins."
Though we were all healed of the fever, some wounds were inside the heart and would mend slowly.
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Book description
In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689848919, Paperback)

On the heels of her acclaimed contemporary teen novel Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson surprises her fans with a riveting and well-researched historical fiction. Fever 1793 is based on an actual epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia that wiped out 5,000 people--or 10 percent of the city's population--in three months. At the close of the 18th century, Philadelphia was the bustling capital of the United States, with Washington and Jefferson in residence. During the hot mosquito-infested summer of 1793, the dreaded yellow fever spread like wildfire, killing people overnight. Like specters from the Middle Ages, gravediggers drew carts through the streets crying "Bring out your dead!" The rich fled to the country, abandoning the city to looters, forsaken corpses, and frightened survivors.

In the foreground of this story is 16-year-old Mattie Cook, whose mother and grandfather own a popular coffee house on High Street. Mattie's comfortable and interesting life is shattered by the epidemic, as her mother is felled and the girl and her grandfather must flee for their lives. Later, after much hardship and terror, they return to the deserted town to find their former cook, a freed slave, working with the African Free Society, an actual group who undertook to visit and assist the sick and saved many lives. As first frost arrives and the epidemic ends, Mattie's sufferings have changed her from a willful child to a strong, capable young woman able to manage her family's business on her own. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:06 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In 1793 Philadelphia, sixteen-year-old Matilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns about perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic.

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