Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Fever" by Laurie Halse Anderson (Book Thoughts)

It's summertime, 1793.  The heat in Philadelphia is overpowering and leaves everyone drained and tired, including fourteen year old Mattie.

Matilda Cook wishes her mother would stop nagging long enough for her to escape their family coffee house and cool off at her favorite place, the waterfront.  But after Mattie's childhood friend and coffee house employee, Polly, suddenly dies of the fever, everything changes in Mattie's world.

Laurie Halse Anderson plunges the reader into 18th century Philadelphia and you can almost feel the stifling heat as Yellow Fever spreads from the docks and invades the Cook Coffeehouse and the city that was once the Capital.  The author opens our eyes to life in the 1700's and a devastating epidemic.

When Matilda is separated from her sick mother, she takes on the responsibility of caring for her grandfather and faces a life or death struggle.  The young girl is forced to make decisions and grow up much too quickly.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the novel's appendix.  The appendix is filled with facts about Philadelphia, life in the 1790s and very interesting information about the Yellow Fever epidemic and the various treatments that people used (to no avail.)

This is a great read!