Months ago, at another fabulous book sale, I pick up this book: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is a rare find- a teen historical novel. I love historical fiction and I have enjoyed the occasional teen novel. This book caught my interest because I had previously read Speak by the same author and which I thought was lovely.
Fever 1793 is about the outbreak of Yellow Fever that struck Philadelphia in 1793. In three months it killed nearly 5000 people, 10% of the city's population. At this time, it was also the capital city of the United States. Thousands of people fled the city to escape the disease. This book follows the fictional, though likely typical, struggle of a 14-year-old girl named Mattie Cook. Her mother comes down with the fever and sends her daughter away to the country. Mattie's grandfather accompanies her, but they are abandoned on the side of the road when it is suspected he has the disease. Many weeks later, Mattie has returned to the city and is helping others who are sick. She sees death and sickness all around her and there is almost no food left because the farmers will not bring food into the market. As she serves the sick day after day, she thinks, "A dying woman in a cot surrounded by strangers was sorrowful, but a dying surrounded by her children, her handiwork, the home where she worked so hard left me in tears."