Is It Getting Hot In Here, Or Is It Just The Yellow Fever?

Fever 1793

by Laurie Halse Anderson

–review by Bronto Incognito

fever-1793Age: Middle Grade
Contains: Death, sickness, some era-appropriate racial issues

What did it feel like to die? Was it a peaceful sleep? Some thought it was full of either trumpet-blowing angels or angry devils. Perhaps I was already dead.

Book-a-likes: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby

If you’ve read any of Laurie Halse Anderson you know how amazing her writing is.  I think the first book I ever read of hers was Speak and it was fantastic–though not at all intended for the same audiences (it deals with the rape of a 14 year old girl, so don’t pick it up unless you’re okay reading that subject.)

Fever deals with young Mattie who lives with her mother and grandfather above a coffeehouse in Philadelphia just before the outbreak of yellow fever in 1793.  They have one servant, a free black woman named Eliza.  Through this family’s eyes you get to witness all the craziness that happened over a few months time when thousands of people lost their lives, mostly due to ignorance over medical care.

If you’re looking for a way to learn about (or teach about) this epidemic, the early state of our country, or history in general you should pick this one up.  Even though I know that the capitol didn’t start out in Washington, D.C., I feel like it’s going to stick in my head much better after reading this book.  I also feel like I have a better understanding of race/immigration relations during this period in this area of the country.

Did you know that the Free Africans society did much of the tending to the ill because early on it was thought that they couldn’t catch the disease?  Because I for one did not.  Or that the rich didn’t start coming back to town until General Washington returned, thus in their eyes deeming the epidemic passed.

I feel like I learned a lot while reading this book, but also could relate to Mattie fairly well.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve been her age, but I still remember how it felt to simultaneously want more responsibility while also wanting your mother to just leave you alone to do what you wanted.  Heck, sometimes I still feel that way (only replace “mom” with “adult life”).

So what other historical novels would you recommend?  Let us know in the comments below!!!

–Bronto Incognito

bronto 10a

Also check out some of our latest posts!

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