Fever 1793 Paperback – Mar 1 2002
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mattie Cook is said to shirk her chores in the description, but I just saw a kid. She still did everything she needed to and was surrounded by people she loved. She may have taken advantage of that, but that's normal.
When the outbreak hits the city of Philadelphia, Mattie is faced with the hard facts that she might lose those around her and it forces her to grow up fast. It's said that the yellow fever outbreak took 10% of that city, which is a devastating statistic.
I enjoyed watching Mattie grow and learn to make decisions for herself. I did find the wanderings with her grandfather to be a bit tedious. It was one minute of being fine, and then things began to happen very fast, and would recover fast -- almost like the scenes weren't needed. They didn't add to Mattie or her grandfather's journey, except to delay it some. Once they found their way back to the coffee house I found things to get interesting. Suddenly, Mattie had a lot to face, and dangers that weren't just a disease. People get ugly in times of strife, and the author revealed some of the things I'd fear if trapped in a time like that.
There were plenty of twists and turns, and I think young adult readers would take a lot from the novel. The research was well done, and pulled the reader into the headspace of a fourteen year old in an extreme, and real situation.
16 year-old Matilda Cook's mother and grandfather owns a popular coffee shop on High Street. Mattie was a lazy girl with a comfortable and plain life. Her whole life changes when the yellow fever epidemic arrives in Philadelphia. Her mother caught the fever and sends Matilda and her grandfather away to be safe. They leave Philadelphia and on their way both Matilda and her grandfather catches yellow fever. So much happens like the death of Mattie's grandfather and her mother goes missing. The epidemic kills thousands of people. When winter comes the epidemic ends. The fever might have ended but the bad memories are still there.
The epidemic caused Mattie to change a lot. She was a lazy girl in the beginning of the book but then she became more responsible and strong. The character shift that Laurie Halse Anderson did was really good.
I had read her other book Speak and thought it was an ok book. But Fever 1973 is one of the best books I've ever read. This book was written I such a way that it is hard to put down. Anderson makes you want to keep reading. I read this book in 3 days and couldn't put it down. I never knew historical fiction could be so fun to read.
Fever 1793 is written so well. I couldn't find any downside besides the fact that I thought the beginning was boring, other than that it was perfect. This book really gives you a picture of the 18th century. This book was not only fun to read but it also was educational. These are two qualities that make the book great.
This book is about the yellow fever dieses that swept across Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the year 1793. It is also about how it affected a little girl named Mattie, aka Matilda. Not only her, but he Grandfather, a revolutionary war veteran, and her mother, a pig headed, hard working loving mother. These three characters own a coffee shop on the outside part of the town. When Mattie's mother catches Yellow fever, she decides to send Mattie out of the town to live with a friend who owns a farm outside of Philadelphia. But the journey is much too long and dangerous for just a little girl. So her grandfather decides to go with her. Mattie and her family need to survive until the winter when the coldness will kill of the illness.
One out of many things that I didn't like about this book is that a good chunk of the book is taking place outside of the town. There where so many possibilities of action adventure and story that could take place in the market or a friend's house, or even in the coffee house! Another thing in a list of bad things is that the story seems to drag on a lot, like between chapter 10 and 15. All those chapters have to do with the same thing. They needed more storyline or interesting events. Just about the only thing that I did like about this is that the grandfather character. He is both comical and wise. He brings the only life to most of the book.
I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys life like stories. Someone who likes to read about events that really happened. But caution is advised, you WILL lose interest. Over this entire book was dragged out and dull.
Most recent customer reviews
The book starts well. The characters aren't especially strong but things move along at a good clip for a while. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
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
A very cool author Laurie Halse Anderson wrote the adventurous book Fever 1793. Laurie Halse Anderson also wrote Speak, and other great books. Read morePublished on May 25 2004 by loren Touma
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
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