Fever: 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

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[Hi, excuse me. Um, you uh… you have a little something… in your eye there…]

 

“During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out. Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie’s world upside down. At her feverish mother’s insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.”

 


 

I was a little hesitant picking up another YA novel after the facepalm that was The Wager. [My review of that atrocity is: here ] But I found this book staring out at me [literally, I could see the cover from where I was] and it piqued my interest. It was at a thrift store, and I decided that it would find a good home with me.

I had a friend who saw that I had the book and highly suggested it, and I actually saw that the book has been given quite a few awards. Deciding this was more than enough to give it a chance, I dove in. I read this book in a day, and kept hating to put it down because I was surprisingly entranced by it.It’s a simple, short book that is extremely fast-paced about a preteen girl living in 1793 when Philadelphia lost thousands of people to Yellow Fever. I thought I’d hate it when I realized that it was written in first-person perspective [don’t ask, I have a weird issue with first person books sometimes], but despite the main character being childish and living in a difficult time [even without the plague] her character’s reactions were understandable and she as a character grew and matured drastically because of what she had gone through.

The book doesn’t pull any punches, which was pretty nice. It describes how Yellow Fever violently took it’s victims in great detail, as well as the racism and sexism at the time. It’s known with the scandal that the main character receives help from, works with, and is eventually taken care of by a freed slave. It also covers about how even as a young teenager, her mother is wanting to get her married off, and how she’s really only worth what her dowry is. However, all of this is blown out of the water after the epidemic hits.

The book also hits on how some of the ‘medical care’ used by the doctors of the time caused more harm than good. American Doctors at the time all liked to use blood letting, which in the epidemic of 1793, killed many more than it helped. It was foreign doctors [the French, in specifics] that helped, but were often times shunned because they weren’t from our lands.

I also like how each character is realistic and like-able in some way or another. I even got a little misty-eyed when a certain main character dies, which also showed to me the book was pretty darn good. This is how a YA novel should be written.

 


 

I give Fever: 1793 5/5 Bloody Vomits and Jaundice

Rating:

“Oh, no, never. Good children were seen and not heard. How utterly unlike me.”

 

 

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