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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
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really liked it
bookshelves: middle-ya, read-2013, historical-fiction-2021, middle-grade-2021, re-read2021

I re-read this back in 2013, but now it seems that it could be a wonderful read for today's mid-grade readers because we have had our own pandemic, unfortunately many months longer than this yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Now, I've read it again! There are some parallels: wealthy people fled Philadelphia as some have fled to second homes today, people suffered because of lack of food as well as the terrible sickness, and others stepped up to help and put themselves at risk as our own essential workers have. I also loved the strength of character of Mattie, the primary character around which the story is told. She is only fourteen, the age of students I taught, shows great strength and capabilities that sometimes is not thought to be who our fourteen-year-olds are today. Halse-Anderson's book is definitely worth checking out for students. As written at the end here, the background given at the end is also very good to learn about.

I’ve read this before & now will read with a group of younger students. Anderson is such a good writer, I’m happy to re-read her work. She gathers the information needed so well, and sneaks in the descriptions so that you hardly notice she’s done it-delivering tension, calm, happiness or sorrow with just a few words. Here, toward the end, moving some people who are ill to a better place, the main character Mattie says “The city was darker than I’d ever seen… Candlelight spilled from only a few windows, and the stars were faint and distant, as far away as hope or the dawn.
This story of the terrible yellow fever epidemic that killed at least 5,000 people in Philadelphia, 10% of the population, is told through the eyes of a young woman, Matilda (called Mattie) whose mother runs a popular coffee house. Her tale begins there, but Anderson takes us into many places not always so sweet during this sickness. Just the description of washing the dreadfully soiled bedclothes (light the fire, carry the water, boil the water, scrub, then dry) makes one wonder how the people survived doing all that they had to do. The descriptions are clear, there is excellent background information about conflict among physicians, the rich fleeing the city, the gender roles, etc. We enter this 18th century world easily with Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing showing the way.
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Reading Progress

February 17, 2013 – Started Reading
February 17, 2013 – Shelved
February 17, 2013 –
page 30
February 21, 2013 –
page 121
February 23, 2013 –
page 179
February 24, 2013 – Shelved as: middle-ya
February 24, 2013 – Shelved as: read-2013
January 9, 2021 – Shelved as: historical-fiction-2021
January 9, 2021 – Shelved as: middle-grade-2021
January 9, 2021 – Shelved as: re-read2021
January 9, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Julie Johnson I remember reading this book a long time ago with our mother/daughter book club. It was a hit with our group. :)

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