Melissa’s Letter Essay 9: “Fever, 1793”

I have finished re-reading the book Fever 1793. It is by Laurie Halse Anderson. It is Historical fiction and is a real life depiction of the yellow fever in Philadelphia. It is 243 pages long. The book is about Mattie Cook, a teenager in 1793 living above her family owned coffeehouse in Philadelphia. When the Yellow Fever epidemic broke out, Mattie and her family are torn apart by the disease and her dreams to bring the family coffee shop to the top vanished. Her life changes before her eyes as she must leave with her grandfather and without her mother against her will but for the sake of her survival. She must learn to survive on her own and escape the deadly city. The book isn’t very long and a very easy read but a really good story. It includes the real methods used by Dr. Rush the main doctor that cured The Fever and that made it very interesting. Also they tell about lots of real life events with real people and that made it very easy to connect to. This paragraph is when Mattie’s mother is diagnosed with the yellow fever.


“Eliza (HER CARETAKER) shook my shoulder.

I woke at once, with a sharp breath. Outside the sky was turning a pale gold. Mockingbirds were singing. Mother slept, her skin the color of an old weathered barn.

At least she was alive.


‘Your grandfather and I have found help’ Eliza whispered. ‘Dr.Kerr. He’s educated, from Scotland’ Dr. Kerr nodded at me. he was a small man wearing a black coat and carrying a small medical case. He set the case on the floor and opened Mother’s eyelids with his fingers.

She slept on.

‘Where’s Grandfather?’ I said

‘Waiting downstairs’ Eliza said

‘How was she in the night?’ Dr.Kerr asked as he started his examination

‘I did everything Mr.Rowley instructed me. I bathed her and gave her tea. I tried to keep the bedclothes clean, but… we’ll wash today. She finally slept after midnight. Do you think she looks better? She feels a little cooler to me. Mr. Rowley said it was just an autumnal

fever, nothing serious’

‘Damned fool,’ he growled

‘Excuse me?’ i said

‘Rowley, the impostor. Autumnal fever indeed. Your mother has yellow fever. There’s no doubt about it. We need to bleed her. 

Yellow Fever.

My mouth moved but i could not breathe. It made no sense. Mother wouldn’t allow it. She had given birth to me in the morning and cooked dinner for ten that evening.She survived the British occupation while my father fought with Washington’s troops. My mother would fight illness back with a broom.”


I chose this passage on pages 70 and 71 because it really was the point in the book when things really began to happen that involved the Fever. Also I really loved the way the author used a real way the fever was “cured” and the later found that the act of bleeding the disease out of the patient was useless and dangerous but it made the story much more interesting and more of a perspective of someone who actually had the fever or had a loved one with the Fever. I chose this book because I read it a long time ago (reason for the very easy skill level) but when i first read it i read it because  the cover really intrigued me. I would probably give this book a 7 out of ten because it was a really easy read with very elementary vocabulary but had a cool and interesting story line.

–Melissa C. 

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