This post contains affiliate links. The pandemic we’re going through may be new to many of us, but epidemics and pandemics have raged throughout history. My personality causes me to read more about things I want to understand, so I picked up Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson to read to the girls. This young adult novel is set in Philadelphia in 1793 during the Yellow Fever epidemic.
About Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Mattie Cook is a 15 year old girl who works with her mother and grandfather in the family’s coffee shop. Like many teenage girls, she’s a wee bit lazy and frustrated by her mother and how strict and rigorous she is.
However, these concerns disappear when Yellow Fever strikes. Her mother is one of the first people to get the fever, so she orders her only child sent away with the grandfather to protect them both. Yet, on the carriage out of town, grandfather becomes sick, and the two are kicked off the carriage with no where to go. While Mattie is trying to get him help, she herself passes out because she also has Yellow Fever.
Mattie struggles back to health, and when she does, she and Grandfather return to their family’s coffee shop. However, they have no idea where Mattie’s mother is or if she even survived. They also find themselves in a fairly deserted town. (All the rich residents had fled town to stay healthy.) The people who are left are desperate and hungry, and not afraid to resort to stealing. . .or worse.
Our Thoughts about This Book
This book was a great read. The girls enjoyed hearing it, and I enjoyed reading it.
In 1793, no one knew what caused Yellow Fever. They just new that after the first freeze, the illness went away. Throughout the book, they’re waiting and praying for that freeze.
As the girls and I read it through our place in history knowing what we know about the cause of Yellow Fever, we were frustrated and felt bad that the residents didn’t know what caused it. So much heartache could have been spared if they had known.
I feel that way about our current pandemic. There are so many theories floating around as far as what treatment will work and what underlying conditions cause people to get more sick than others. We just don’t know, and people are suffering and dying. Perhaps 100 years from now, what causes the virus and how to treat it will be obvious.
If you want to read about how another generation handled an epidemic or if you just want to read a really good young adult novel, I recommend this book.
I give Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
To read another excellent book by Laurie Halse Anderson, consider Chains. (This book is even better when you listen to the audio.)