Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fever 1793

by Laurie Halse Anderson
published: Simon and Schuster, 2000
pages: 272

Mattie Cook was focused on one thing when the rumor of the fever hit: growing her family's business.  The coffee shop was situated far from the docks and the mosquitos, the seeming source of the fever. Only dock workers and others close to the docks became infected. But when the death count begins to rise and the fever spreads, people begin to evacuate Philadelphia. Mattie and her family have to make a decision to flee or to stay and take their chances. With their choice, they begin a new fight - one for their survival.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is that the story was centered on an event that actually occurred in history.  Even though most of the characters are fictional, some of them were real people trying to survive in a real yellow fever epidemic.  I find it fascinating how the world of fiction and reality collide so well in this story.

It took me a while to get into the plot of the book. I was not completely engaged until about a hundred pages into the book, which I think is quite a bit of the story for a 272 page book. I held on because I love Laurie Halse Anderson as an author and I have always enjoyed her books. That and it's a prize winning book which made me think there was something to the story that I hadn't figured out yet.

I was not drawn to the characters in this book very much, but I did really enjoy Grandfather. I thought he had the right mix of wisdom and spunk that kept Mattie going when she could have very easily given up on her journey.  I think she saw the spunk in her grandfather which allowed her stubbornness work to her advantage in parts of the book. When everything felt lost, she was able to keep going.  While I admire that, I didn't connect with her on a personal level.

The story was intriguing and I am glad I read this book, but I definitely liked some of Laurie Halse Anderson's other books better.

Stars: 3/5


"The plot rages like the epidemic itself."
     --The New York Times Book Review

"Readers will be drawn in by the characters and will emerge with a sharp and graphic picture of another world."
     --School Library Journal

"A gripping story about living morally under the shadow of rampant death."
     --The New York Times Book Review

"A vivid work, rich with well-drawn characters."

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