Fever, 1793

By: Laurie Halse Anderson

Where and When?

This book took place in Philadelphia, PA in 1793, but wasn't published until 2000.

Good for you?

I thought that this book was very good because for me, it was easy to related and get into because it took place in the United States and Matilda was also a teenage girl, so it was like me in the story. This book gave me an eye opening experience about a disease that affected many people in our country. I think that you should read this book because it really informs you about the fever, such as the symptoms the people experienced and what else they went thought. The book not only talks about how it affected Matilda but everyone around her. This book also makes you realize something of this matter breaks out, everyone comes together and helps out not just leave everyone to be on their own. There is examples in the book of this such as, Matilda helping the twins and many people opening hospitals and orphanages. The book gives you a different point of view other than what you read from history books. It will also make you think about what you would do if something like this broke out in out society today. These are some of the reason I believe you should read this book.

Historical References

  • The yellow fever killed 1/6 of the population in the PA area.
  • Pierre Blanchard was an actual inventor who flew hot air balloons across the English Channel and over Philadelphia. Throughout the book, Matilda refers to Blanchard's experiments as a source of excitement, hope, and wonder.
  • Mosquitos are what scholars are led to believe spread the disease and this book took place during the summer which is when mosquitos are out the most. This is why the disease spread so rapidly.


One thing I find interesting about the book is how Anderson wrote in characters who were actually in this time period and experienced it all. These people include, Dr. Benjamin Rush, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton (who experienced the fever personally). This makes the story more interesting because it makes you want to research those people and find out more about them.

Important Quotes

Quote: “My city, Philadelphia, was wide awake. My heart beat faster and my head cleared. Below the window, High Street teemed with horsemen, carriages, and carts. I could hear Mrs. Henning gossiping on her front stoop and dogs barking at a pig running loose in the street.”

Reasoning: Later on during the book once the fever starts to spread out, the city commotion dies down a lot. There aren’t pigs running around, no busy streets, and there aren’t people yelling everywhere. This is because since the fever is spreading so much, everyone is staying indoors to keep the fever out of their houses.

Quote: "Mother shivered so hard, her teeth rattled. Even with all the blankets in the house on her, she could not warm. She lay under the faded bedding like a rag doll losing its stuffing, her hair a wild collection of snakes on the pillow, her cornflower blue eyes poisoned with streaks of yellow and red. It hurt to look at her."

Reasoning: Matilda witnesses first-hand the effects of the fever on her mother's body. This is very important because it shows how she actually saw how the fever affected someone not just watching everyone in the town dying. She got to see the effects on the body, even though it was on her mother.

Quote: "With every hour that passed, Philadelphia shed the appearance of a ghost city and looked more and more like the capital of the United States. Like a wilted flower stuck in a bowl of water, it drew strength and blossomed. Nathaniel talked about painting the rebirth of the city. I thought he would do a grand job."

Reasoning: This quote shows how the city started to be rebuilt after everything died away. As the fever went around the town, people were all either dying or fleeing. This meant no one was in the town to buy products at the market or even sell to people so everything closed down.

Author Statistics

Laurie Halse Anderson

  • writes for children and young adults
  • written about 35 books
  • sales rank for Fever, 1793: 27, 430
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