Laurie Halse Anderson
Now that the kids are back at school, lots of middle-schoolers are reading historical novels like Fever 1793, the story of Mattie Cook, a fourteen-year-old girl living in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever plague of 1793. Mattie must grow up quickly during that summer, as the fever strikes her family and friends. She makes difficult decisions and learns hard lessons about survival, life and love.
Anderson weaves history into her story and the reader learns about these difficult times in early America, as well as about how people lived and how the black population built a powerful supportive network to help them through sickness and hunger. She also includes a great deal about doctors’ different approaches to healing the sick and the heated debate over these methods.
I like how Mattie matures during this time. Anderson shows how, despite vastly different circumstances, young teenagers of all time periods share similar feelings of love, loyalty and rebellion and must make difficult decisions that ultimately shape their adult characters.
Although the story includes sadness and loss, Fever is more a story of hope and survival with a definite feel-good ending.
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