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Fever 1793 Paperback – March 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 580L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689848919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689848919
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (664 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

On the heels of her acclaimed contemporary teen novel Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson surprises her fans with a riveting and well-researched historical fiction. Fever 1793 is based on an actual epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia that wiped out 5,000 people--or 10 percent of the city's population--in three months. At the close of the 18th century, Philadelphia was the bustling capital of the United States, with Washington and Jefferson in residence. During the hot mosquito-infested summer of 1793, the dreaded yellow fever spread like wildfire, killing people overnight. Like specters from the Middle Ages, gravediggers drew carts through the streets crying "Bring out your dead!" The rich fled to the country, abandoning the city to looters, forsaken corpses, and frightened survivors.

In the foreground of this story is 16-year-old Mattie Cook, whose mother and grandfather own a popular coffee house on High Street. Mattie's comfortable and interesting life is shattered by the epidemic, as her mother is felled and the girl and her grandfather must flee for their lives. Later, after much hardship and terror, they return to the deserted town to find their former cook, a freed slave, working with the African Free Society, an actual group who undertook to visit and assist the sick and saved many lives. As first frost arrives and the epidemic ends, Mattie's sufferings have changed her from a willful child to a strong, capable young woman able to manage her family's business on her own. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The opening scene of Anderson's ambitious novel about the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in the late 18th century shows a hint of the gallows humor and insight of her previous novel, Speak. Sixteen-year-old Matilda "Mattie" Cook awakens in the sweltering summer heat on August 16th, 1793, to her mother's command to rouse and with a mosquito buzzing in her ear. She shoos her cat from her mother's favorite quilt and thinks to herself, "I had just saved her precious quilt from disaster, but would she appreciate it? Of course not." Mattie's wit again shines through several chapters later during a visit to her wealthy neighbors' house, the Ogilvies. Having refused to let their serving girl, Eliza, coif her for the occasion, Mattie regrets it as soon as she lays eyes on the Ogilvie sisters, who wear matching bombazine gowns, curly hair piled high on their heads ("I should have let Eliza curl my hair. Dash it all"). But thereafter, Mattie's character development, as well as those of her grandfather and widowed mother, takes a back seat to the historical details of Philadelphia and environs. Extremely well researched, Anderson's novel paints a vivid picture of the seedy waterfront, the devastation the disease wreaks on a once thriving city, and the bitterness of neighbor toward neighbor as those suspected of infection are physically cast aside. However, these larger scale views take precedence over the kind of intimate scenes that Anderson crafted so masterfully in Speak. Scenes of historical significance, such as George Washington returning to Philadelphia, then the nation's capital, to signify the end of the epidemic are delivered with more impact than scenes of great personal significance to Mattie. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous American Library Association and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also made the Carnegie Medal Shortlist in the United Kingdom.

Laurie was the proud recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature...". She was also honored with the ALAN Award from the National Council of Teachers of English and the St. Katharine Drexel Award from the Catholic Librarian Association.

Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. She and her husband, Scot, plus dogs Kezzie and Thor, and assorted chickens and other critters enjoy country living and time in the woods. When not writing or hanging out with her family, you can find Laurie training for marathons or trying to coax tomatoes out of the rocky soil in her backyard. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, http://twitter.com/halseanderson, and on her blog, http://madwomanintheforest.com/blog/.

Customer Reviews

This book was good and I liked it a lot but there were times it kreeped me out.
Emily Donbrosky
Laurie Halse Anderson did an amazing job researching this historical fiction about the Yellow Fever outbreak that plagued Philadelphia in the summer of 1793.
L. Mintah
I recommend it to everyone who likes historical fiction or a good book to read!
J. Westhoff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
It's the late summer of 1793 in Philadelphia, and fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook helps her widowed mother and her grandfather run a coffehouse. Mattie resents her strict mother and dreams of expanding the coffeehouse and becoming wealthy. But her mother seems determined to find a wealthy young man to marry Mattie off to. But all of Mattie's concerns soon seem petty when an epidemic of yellow fever begins to spread throughout the city. Mattie's own mother falls ill and sends Mattie and her grandfather to stay on a farm in the countryside, where she hopes they will be safe. But they are turned away and forced to return to Philadelphia when a doctor mistakes her grandfather's cough for yellow fever. Mattie comes down with the fever and nearly dies, but is nursed back to health in a temporary hospital. But she and her grandfather return to the coffeehouse to find that Mattie's mother has vanished. They try to settle back into a normal routine, but a sudden tragedy soon leaves Mattie on her own. Now, in a world turned upside down, in a ghost city a shadow of its former self, Mattie must keep herself alive and care for a little girl orphaned by the epidemic. This was an excellant historical novel that brought to life the epidemic. Through Mattie's first-person narration, I became immersed in the daily events of her life and her fight for survival. Highly reccomended.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Gwen A Orel on June 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating account of a devastating fever epidemic in Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States, in 1793. Nearly overnight-- people contract the disease and die within the hour-- Mattie's life goes from being a slightly overworked teenage daughter of a proprietor of a successful coffee house, to a young woman struggling to survive in a city that's taken on the bleakness of a Mad Max film.
Yet somehow we never come as close to Mattie as we might, or as we do with the main character in Anderson's SPEAK. Mattie's thoughts are so much on survival and on food that at times the book feels a bit like a travelogue of a disaster. Salvation, when it comes, also seems abrupt. In the end, this is a quick way to get an immediate feel for a terrible time in history, but although we are told a lot about Mattie, her family, her hopes and dreams, somehow she stays elusive. Emotionally, the book is a little disappointing, but it's still well worth a read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Schensted VINE VOICE on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
in a sentence or two: it's 1793 in Philadelphia, and a mysterious fever is said to be killing people without mercy. the murmurings of yellow fever come to fruition when 15 year old Mattie's mom is struck ill with a fever that drives her crazy and gives her eyes a horrid yellow tinge.

Mattie, her mom, their cook Eliza and Mattie's grandpa run a coffeehouse in Philadelphia. grandpa served under the great General Washington and likes to fill her days sharing stories, sneaking her candy, and being overall supportive and encouraging. her dad died from a fall off a ladder which left her mom understandably saddened and bitter, very much unlike the soft and comforting woman she used to be. their life at the coffeehouse provides a good deal of gossip off the street about the fever, however, their first awareness is when their beloved scullery maid and friend of Mattie dies suddenly in her home.

the book is the journey of Mattie and her family in their attempts to avoid the yellow fever. the fear that people felt from not knowing how to prevent the spreading of the disease or what to do when it struck is strongly delivered by Anderson. the differing opinions of doctors, the despair, and the struggle to keep going when everything seems hopeless flood this book with rich emotions.

i was impressed with Mattie's voice as the narrator. as a 15 year old, she's in that awkward phase somewhere between being a girl to being a woman, which adds a blend of insecurity and determination that fits perfectly with the surrounding circumstances of the rest of the story. i didn't think i was getting too sucked in to the emotions until i was bawling in the middle when someone died...then i realized how captivating this book was.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on August 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Fever 1793" is about a fourteen-year-old girl named Mattie who lives in Philadelphia in, you guessed it, 1793. She and her mom and grandfather run a coffeehouse. Mattie starts out as a pretty ordinary girl, but then the yellow fever epidemic strikes and thousands become ill. Mattie gets sick, but survives. Her mother disappears. In running the coffeehouse by herself, and tending to the sick and dying, Mattie grows up in just a few months to become a right proper responsible young woman. I actually liked the beginning best. Mattie's voice was quite sardonic. "By the time they had me tightened, pinned, and locked into my clothes, I could feel my stomach rubbing against my backbone." The book was funny and sad at the same time. I hope Ms. Anderson continues to write novels as good as this!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Fever, 1793 brings the sorrowful time in Philadelphia when Yellow Fever devastated the city, to life in a compelling manner. You see the sights of the ravished market,docks, and shops, smell the stench of the dead and dying, feel the despair of those waiting and watching and struggle right along with Mattie as she copes with the loss of her grandfather, the fear that her missing mother may be dead,and her determination to reach out to others and survive.Mattie's spirit brings hope and joy in a terrible time. I could not put this book down.
A librarian from Bucks County
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