Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Mattie lives with her mother and grandfather in Philadelphia in 1793. Together they run a coffeehouse while Mattie's mother tries to find a suitable husband for her daughter. But life changes for Mattie when many people in Philadelphia, including her mother, become sick with yellow fever. Mattie's mother decides to send her to the country to live with friends but they are stopped on the way there by men worried about the fever spreading to their town and Mattie and her grandfather are abandoned by the side of the road. After narrowly recovering from the fever herself Mattie finally makes it back to Philadelphia only to find that the city has changed and her mother has disappeared. Stores, including her coffeehouse, have been looted and farmers won't come into town to sell food for fear of catching the fever themselves. With no word of whether her mother is alive or not and no sign of the fever breaking anytime soon, Mattie sets to work helping others in whatever way she can. This book is based on the true events of the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia. At that time people didn't know what caused yellow fever and even treatment was unsure with some doctors recommending daily bloodletting to cure their patients. When the epidemic began the city had 40,000 residents. By the time the first frost came and killed the mosquitoes that were spreading the fever over 5,000 people had died.