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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 (edition 2002)

by Laurie Halse Anderson (Author)

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5,1832221,574 (3.89)170
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.
Title:Fever 1793
Authors:Laurie Halse Anderson (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2002), Edition: Reprint, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson


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Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
I'm one-quarter of the way in and I am not digging it. I typically enjoy YA fiction but this seems more like elementary level. Not sure if I will even finish it. I really don't like any of the characters, particularly the main character. Not much to keep me reading. ( )
  Tosta | Jul 5, 2021 |
Occasionally I enjoy reading books that are aimed more toward kids, because they can be just as good as adult books. Laurie Halse Anderson is an authors who’s been on my radar for some time, so I decided to start my journey through her books with Fever 1793. I love historical fiction, and this one gives a fictional account of the yellow fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia in late 1793, killing over five thousand people. I’ve heard of a number of epidemics throughout history, but I’m not sure that I’d ever read anything about this specific one. It was made all the more interesting, because the United States was just coming off the Revolutionary War at the time and was still a fledgling country, whose capitol was then Philadelphia. Many of the patriots and founding fathers, including President Washington, left the city for safer areas. Those who stayed behind were obviously hit the hardest, and there were many people who IMHO were heroes for doctoring and nursing the sick, some of them coming down with the disease and dying themselves. It was a rather bleak chapter in our history as a nation but one that I found very interesting.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Mattie, a fourteen year old girl who helps her widowed mother run a coffee house, something that was all the rage at the time (and apparently still is :-)). She’s a very smart, independent young lady, but one who’s perhaps a tad lazy as the story opens. She has grand dreams of expanding the coffee house to include a store and of traveling to Paris to bring back all sorts of fripperies to sell, but at the same time, she rather dislikes the day-to-day grind of running the family business. That all changes when the epidemic hits. Within a few months time, Mattie grows and changes as she deals with the fallout of this brutal disease. She must leave her sick mother behind in an effort to flee the plague and eventually loses someone very close to her. When she returns, not knowing what became of her mother, she must grow up almost overnight to take charge of several different situations, but she manages to handle them all with strength and dignity. I have to give the author kudos for writing a strong female protagonist. Mattie was a very admirable heroine, who is a great role model for young girls.

Fever 1793 is a wonderful book for all kids, middle grade and up, although because of it’s female lead, it will probably appeal more to girls. The effects of the yellow fever can be pretty brutal (obviously a lot of people lost their lives, and some people were so scared by it, they even left loved ones in the streets to die) and the author doesn’t gloss any of this over. However, I certainly didn’t find anything to be overly shocking or in any way inappropriate for the age group (ages 10 and up according to the back cover) at which it’s aimed. Some younger, sensitive readers might be bothered by these things, but otherwise, there wasn’t any objectionable content, and IMO, the history lesson far outweighs any potential downside. Ms. Anderson even includes an appendix of fascinating historical facts at the very end of the book, and the quotes from persons who experienced this tragedy first-hand that begin each chapter were quite interesting. I also enjoyed the touch of romance between Mattie and Nathaniel. In addition to the strong female lead, I have to give the author credit for including several free African American characters and for highlighting their incredible and selfless contributions in the effort to fight this terrible disease. Overall, Fever 1793 was a really good story. The only reason I dropped a half-star is because it took me just a little while to connect with the characters and the narrative, but once the epidemic hit, I was very engaged. I highly recommend the book for kids middle grade or older who enjoy historical fiction. It was my first read by Laurie Halse Anderson, and after this wonderful book, I’m definitely looking forward to checking out more of her work. ( )
  mom2lnb | Jun 30, 2021 |
BBYA Top 10 2000. RGG: Post-Revolutionary War; Excellent historic fiction; quality of prose definitely young adult.
  rgruberexcel | May 19, 2021 |
In 1793 Philadelphia, 16-year-old Mathilda Cook, separated from her sick mother, learns abut perseverance and self-reliance when she is forced to cope with the horrors of a yellow fever epidemic. Love. Friendship. Survival. Family. Historical Fiction. ( )
  LisaTafoya | May 19, 2021 |
In the summer of 1793, a yellow fever epidemic sweeps through Philadelphia. Mattie's mother falls ill, and sends Mattie and her grandfather to the country, but they never make it to their destination; Grandfather falls ill as well (not with yellow fever) and they return to the city - only to find Mother gone. Mattie and Grandfather live in their coffee house, until intruders break in and kill Grandfather, leaving Mattie alone, until she finds the African-American cook, Eliza. Together, the two of them and Eliza's family care for each other and the rest of the fevered, until the first frost kills off the mosquitoes and the city revives.

Mattie teeters on the verge between childhood and adulthood. Before the epidemic, her dream was to expand the family's coffee house, adding a dry goods store; but as she suffers and recovers from the fever, and sees many fall dead around her, she focuses on getting through the present.

See also: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk


"I don't believe it," said Grandfather finally. "People exaggerate." (confronted with the idea that a thousand people might die; Philadelphia's population at the time was 40,000) (p. 60)

"You can't solve tomorrow's problems today." (Nurse Bridget Flagg to Mattie, 107)

"These are trying times. They seem to bring out the best and worst in the people around us." (Mrs. Bowles to Mattie, 114)

"We're supposed to go back to the way we lived before, but everything has changed." (Mattie to Nathaniel, 218)

I wanted to tell [the returnees] to hush. It felt like they were dancing on a grave with no thought to the suffering they had escaped. (219) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 30, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
This is a great historical fiction for middle school through adults. I don't remember being taught anything about the yellow fever epidemic that consumed Philadelphia in 1793 so I was really interested after reading the description.

In the beginning of the book, Mattie Cook is a typical kid with big hopes and dreams. She often butted heads with her hard-working mother who owned and operated a coffee shop. The shop was normally packed all day, but as the fever spread, more and more people fled to the country leaving Philadelphia a ghost town.

Mattie came down with the fever after being stranded in the middle of nowhere by a family that she had paid to take her and her grandfather to a friends farm outside the city. She was found laying by the side of the road by French nurses who took her and her grandfather to their hospital.

Mattie recovered and returned to Philadelphia to look for her mother. Instead, she saw people dying in the streets and carts full of the dead being taken to mass graves. Her mother was not at home and the shop had been ransacked. Food was in such short supply everyone ate very little.

You can feel the pain, sorrow, and determination on every page. Mattie's character evolves and grows up quickly. She kept going through it all never giving up or loosing faith that her mother was alive and would return to town.

The first frost of fall came with a huge celebration, marking the end of the yellow fever pandemic. Philadelphia's once hauntingly silent streets were packed with Philadelphians eager to return home. At the time, Philadelphia was the capital of the growing United States. When president Washington returned to the city, the last of the residents came home.

I enjoyed this quick historical read and highly recommend it to middle grades and up. It gives the reader a glimpse into the struggle of staying alive in a time when there were no treatments.

As always, happy reading! 📚
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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
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.
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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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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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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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