Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: Fever 1793

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Synopsis: 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.


a.) Characters: 4/5 score.

The story is told from Mattie’s point of view. Even though she is 14 when the story first opens, and they are talking about marrying her, she still had a childish feel to her character. But as the story progresses, she has to grow up. It starts August 16th and stretches until November 10th, the epilogue taking place only a month later. We travel through the story with her as she grows into an amazingly strong young woman.

b.) Plot: 4/5 score.

When the story first opens, Mattie is awoken by her mother. There are things to be done, so we are hooked by tasks and chores. Slowly, the fever takes over the plot as it took over the lives of many in the era. With each incident, I found myself equally gasping and holding my breath. Especially since we know that the practice of bleeding doesn’t work, that the yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, and that guns and cannons don’t clean the air with their gunpowder.

c.) Writing style: 5/5 score.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing style is poetic.She thoroughly builds the world with each task, each description, each character. You are taken back to 1793, you experience the fear of the fever, and you are hopeful despite what we know now about medicine. It is not hard to read this cover to cover as you are wrapped in the world she weaves. She did a load of research into this, some of which can be found at the end of the book in the Appendix.

Rating: 13/15 total



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