Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fever 1793 Review

Book Talk: Mattie lives with her grandfather and mother in the coffee house that they run in Philadelphia.   Business seems to be going well, especially after a summer fever breaks out near the docks causing more people to head to their coffee shop away from the docks and city center.  Some families abandon town for the countryside, but Mattie's family thinks that it's just another summer sickness brought in by immigrants, so they stay where they are and keep the shop open.  By the time they realize that this is no normal fever, it might already be too late.

Rocks My Socks: I love all the details in this book about an episode of American history that I had never heard of before reading this book.  Apparently there really was an outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793 that killed five thousand people, or ten percent of the population.  I also love the lessons that can be learned from this period.  For example, many people who would have otherwise lived died because they were thrown out on the streets and abandoned by their friends and families who were too afraid of getting the fever from them to help.  There were, however, notable exceptions such as the members of the Free African Society in Philadelphia many of who volunteered around the city, helping the sick and those left behind.  There's a lot of great details crammed into the narrative, but I never felt overwhelmed by them.

Rocks In My Socks: The plot moves along pretty quickly with a lot of detail about the place and time so there's not a lot of fleshing out of the characters.  Mattie does grow up a lot during the narrative, as any girl who lived through such a crisis would, but I would have liked to have seen more detail about and growth of the other characters especially because I really liked them and would have liked to read more about them.  I also felt like the end of the book was a bit too clean considering how messy the fever was.

Every Book Its Reader: I'd recommend this to 9-14 year-olds, especially those who like historical fiction or who are studying that period in school.  The plot is interesting enough on its own, though, that an interest in the period isn't necessary to enjoying the book.  Most of the main characters in the book are female, but the themes are pretty universal so both genders should be able to enjoy it. 

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

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