Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Historical Fiction/Middle Grade
PG for scary situations
Recommend for anyone who doesn't like historical fiction but is required to read it AND for historical fiction fans.
It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive (via Goodreads)
...what freaks me out about these stories is the overwhelming helplessness I feel reading them. If you're caught in a plague, there's not much you can do. There's no one to shoot or outwit or overpower. There's nothing you can do.
However, Fever 1793 was surprisingly less terrifying than I anticipated. Once I actually started it, I had trouble putting it down. Main character Mattie was interesting enough to override my terror of PLAGUE.
Anderson knows her storytelling; she's not relying on fear or grisly details for the drama here, instead giving Mattie personal hurdles in addition to and because of the epidemic to really put meat on the story. Anderson focuses more on Mattie's courage, determination, and wherewithal to survive a city gone insane than on the actual plague itself. While obviously dealing first-hand with the epidemic, it's less a story about yellow fever and more about the courage of people -even the most unlikely- in times of unimaginable despair and destruction.
Because of this, Fever 1793 didn't bother me near as much as I feared it would. Mattie is a great character and the story puts so much of the focus on her will and determination to and her BELIEF that she will survive than on the hopelessness and despair of the epidemic itself.
Mattie gave me strength and courage while I read this so I know this will be a great book for kids to read, especially in their formative years.
Fever 1793 is a great piece of historical fiction, but it wasn't a personal favorite. (Germaphobe, remember?) It's a good book and I loved how all the subplots end, but it's just not my king of book. I wouldn't read it again by choice, but I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes/needs to read historical fiction.
However, I'm impressed enough by the storytelling that I will definitely try more by this author.
Warning: I cried at least 3 times reading this.
What subjects give you the heebie-jeebies in books?