Setting

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The significant events occur within a four-month period during which the characters of this once-thriving town are changed forever. The story begins with Mattie waking to a mosquito whining in one ear and her mother hollering in the other.

Mattie lives in a room above the family coffee house. It is August and the relentless heat pours into the modest bedchamber. Struggling to awaken to begin her chores, Mattie typifies the life of a teen. She struggles with her desire to do the right thing and her need to have some fun. She finds her mother annoying and dreams of the day when she can slip free of family restrictions. Mattie thinks of her friend, Nathaniel Benson, who understands her dreams.

Anderson effectively puts readers in the hubbub of the nation's capital, Philadelphia. She describes the hustle and bustle of the city, with its horsemen, carriages, and carts. A neighbor gossips as a dog barks at a pig running loose in the street. A blacksmith's hammer hits his anvil.

The author sets the topography and political climate. From Mattie's coffeehouse, she can see the rooftop of the State House where the Congress met. The coffeehouse sits two blocks away from President Washington's house. Politicians, as well as merchants and gentlemen, enjoy cups of coffee, a bite to eat, and the daily news. On a clear day, Mattie can see the masts of the ships anchored at the docks of the Delaware River. These historical and geographical details place the readers in the era quickly and effectively.

Anderson uses unique events to substantiate her historical depiction. She refers to Blanchard's yellow hot air balloon that rose over Philadelphia in January of 1793. She incorporates the work of the African Free Society and its heroic members. She bases Mattie's adventures on the real-life events of yellow fever with credible symptoms, treatments, and attitudes.

The author shows the compassionate and honest nature of teenagers. She portrays Mattie like an authentic teen—trying new ideas, new personalities, and new dreams. Anderson seems to view the world as if she is fifteen years old. She grabs the readers' attention and takes them through Mattie's experience. She does this so effectively that readers may begin to cheer when Mattie's secret sweetheart, Nathaniel Benson, notices her.

Anderson's references to Philadelphia, its political climate, and distinct events create a genuine and credible novel. She includes an Appendix containing her key research findings

Literary Qualities

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Anderson employs a plain writing style by using simple sentences, dialect from everyday speech, and clear and direct statements. She narrates the story in chronological order through the protagonist's eyes. Her realism depicts the epidemic of yellow fever and the frequently callous responses to it.

Anderson's imagery is detailed and effective and yet occasionally hard to fathom. She gives readers a concrete sensation of the aspects of yellow fever; the delirium caused by the fever, and the vomiting of blood and black liquid. She describes the gruesome reality of people discarding dying people on the street, banning sick people from other cities, and burying the dead in mass graves. Anderson presents enough information to make the events believable, without turning the novel into a horror story.

Anderson uses historical speech patterns and period slang of 1793. Doing so may facilitate young adults' understanding of this time in history.

Social Sensitivity

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Anderson shows compassion for the people dealing with this deadly epidemic. Her characters reflect true-life attitudes and exist in a historical context. From the happenings at the coffeehouse to the heroic volunteers of the Free African Society, Anderson shows an understanding of women and girls—how they dream and how far they feel they can stretch for them.

Anderson created a facts appendix to answer questions that readers may have that she could not fit into the story. This additional part of the book adds to its historical value.

Treating teenagers in a kindly way, Anderson tells an honest story about an event that affected thousands of people. She tells it using a teenage perspective, which makes the story connect with teen readers' attitudes and concerns.

The author shows Mattie's burgeoning romance with Nathaniel in a tasteful and appropriate way. They engage in mild flirting, take extra notice of each other, and have a lot of fun.

Anderson approaches the intrinsic struggle in illness and death with compassion. She shows how horrific circumstances can lead to horrific responses, such as the dumping of the sick out onto the street. The Free African Society exemplifies how horrific circumstances can bring out extraordinary acts of human love and kindness.

For Further Reference

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Bradburn, Francis. Review of Fever 1793. Booklist, vol. 97, issue 3 (October 1, 2000): 332.

Burkam, Anita L. Review of Fever 1793. Horn Book Magazine, vol. 76, issue 5 (September 2000): 562.

Hudak, Tina. Review of Fever 1793(audiobook). School Library Journal, vol. 47, issue 3 (March 2001): 84.

Isaacs, Kathleen. Review of Fever 1793. School Library Journal, vol. 46, issue 8 (August 2000): 177.

Review of Fever 1793. Publishers Weekly, vol. 247, issue 31 (July 31, 2000): 96.

Rich, Anna. Review of Fever 1793 (audiobook). Booklist, vol. 97, issue 15 (April 1,2001): 1494.

Thompson, Constance Decker. Review of Fever 1793. New York Times Book Review, vol. 105, issue 47 (November 19,2000): 45.

RELATED WEB SITES
Laurie's Bookshelf. http://www.writerlady. com. Accessed October 2002. This official author's site contains biographical information as well as books she recommends and links.

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