Review: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 - Emily Bergl, Laurie Halse Anderson

Car was at the mechanic's shop getting an oil change, so I took the kids to the library to wait. While there, I picked up this book and decided it would be a good fit for a bingo square "Historical Fiction." Seriously, this bingo card is going to fill up with YA/MG titles the way I am going.

 

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Our heroine, Matilda Cook (Mattie for short), is the daughter of a widow and owner of a coffeehouse and the grand-daughter of a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Along with mom and grandfather, there is Eliza, the coffeehouse cook who was born a slave but is a free black woman; Nathaniel Benson, a somewhat love interest/definitely dear friend of Mattie's and apprentice for the painting family the Peales; and finally, there is Philadelphia - the city is definitely part setting/part character in this book. These characters were fully fleshed out without resorting to stereotypes; the relationships between the characters gave this book a lot of heart.

 

The epidemic of yellow fever started in early August and didn't end until late October. Each chapter is titled with the date to show how days, then weeks, then months moved the epidemic along. Society broke down during the epidemic; there were points in the book that the plot turned from historical fiction to downright apocalyptic. There was a lot of pain, which made the moments of joy or unity so much sweeter but also brought realism and balance to the story.

 

It took a few hours to read, but I am glad I did. Anderson has a wonderful voice and writing style, plus she does her homework on the historical accuracy front. 4 stars. Summer Bingo square "Historical Fiction" filled.