Fever 1793 Summary

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson is a historical fiction novel set in Philadelphia during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. The novel follows the story of Mattie Cook, a teenage girl who must find a way to survive the deadly disease.

  • The novel begins with Mattie Cook’s everyday struggles as a teenager living in Philadelphia. However, her life is quickly turned upside down when the city is struck by a deadly yellow fever epidemic.
  • As the disease ravages the city, Mattie must find a way to survive. With the help of her friends and family, she manages to make it through the epidemic.
  • Though her experience is harrowing, Mattie emerges from the ordeal a stronger person. She learns that, through perseverance and self-reliance, any horror can be faced.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 137

Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers published Anderson's novel Fever 1793 in 2000, an historical novel set in Philadelphia during the post-Revolutionary War. Readers encounter the harrowing experience of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. Anderson gives insight into this deadly disease that killed nearly five thousand people, ten percent of the Philadelphia population, and halted its prosperity. The story uses real-life recollections to develop the bitterness and fear of neighbor toward neighbor as people physically cast aside the infected and buried thousands.

The novel begins by showing the normal, everyday conflicts teenagers face in dealing with strict parents, changing body images, and the death of friends. It then weaves a realistic tale of the losses that occurred as it conveys to young adults a message of hope. Readers realize that, through perseverance and self-reliance, any horror can be faced.

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