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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The opening scene of Anderson's ambitious novel about the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in the late 18th century shows a hint of the gallows humor and insight of her previous novel, Speak. Sixteen-year-old Matilda "Mattie" Cook awakens in the sweltering summer heat on August 16th, 1793, to her mother's command to rouse and with a mosquito buzzing in her ear. She shoos her cat from her mother's favorite quilt and thinks to herself, "I had just saved her precious quilt from disaster, but would she appreciate it? Of course not." Mattie's wit again shines through several chapters later during a visit to her wealthy neighbors' house, the Ogilvies. Having refused to let their serving girl, Eliza, coif her for the occasion, Mattie regrets it as soon as she lays eyes on the Ogilvie sisters, who wear matching bombazine gowns, curly hair piled high on their heads ("I should have let Eliza curl my hair. Dash it all"). But thereafter, Mattie's character development, as well as those of her grandfather and widowed mother, takes a back seat to the historical details of Philadelphia and environs. Extremely well researched, Anderson's novel paints a vivid picture of the seedy waterfront, the devastation the disease wreaks on a once thriving city, and the bitterness of neighbor toward neighbor as those suspected of infection are physically cast aside. However, these larger scale views take precedence over the kind of intimate scenes that Anderson crafted so masterfully in Speak. Scenes of historical significance, such as George Washington returning to Philadelphia, then the nation's capital, to signify the end of the epidemic are delivered with more impact than scenes of great personal significance to Mattie. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The book starts well. The characters aren't especially strong but things move along at a good clip for a while. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Richard Feder
A very informative book about the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia during the summer of 1793. It gives insight to what the daily life of girls and women was like in the late... Read morePublished on Dec 13 2010 by Silvia V. Lamb
My 9 yr old was given this book to read at school. This book is appropriate for older kids and adults...not for younger kids!!! Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2006 by a loving mom
The bubonic plague in Europe took 25 million lives. The Yellow Fever in 18th century Philadelphia took a mere 5000 lives and lasted a few weeks. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by mona soames
This was an incrdible book, a perfect view of such a great fight for your life. It showed you everything from the inside: Mattie's fear, determination, strength and courage. Read morePublished on May 24 2004
I've wanted to read this book for quite some time now. I finally got my hands on a copy this past week and I read it in 4 days. Read morePublished on May 21 2004 by cad
...but I really loved this book! It brought history to a whole new level, a level that children would actually WANT to read! Read morePublished on May 18 2004 by alyssa
this book is so great because it shows how hard life really was when the yellow fever was around! i felt so sorry for her in this book because she loses so much more than anyone... Read morePublished on May 10 2004
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook in Fever 1793 has a mind of her own. She wants to grow up and run the Cook Coffeehouse in dusty Philadelphia. Read morePublished on April 29 2004