The Captain’s Log – fever 1793 (Laurie Halse Anderson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Did ye know that in 1793 in Philadelphia there was a yellow fever epidemic?  Or that said epidemic killed 10 percent of the city’s population in 3 months?  Or that there was a Free African Society that helped citizens of Philadelphia in the epidemic regardless of race or class.  Or that the first hot air balloon launched in the United States happened in Philadelphia in 1793?

Yup, history can be fascinating and sad and sometimes even unknown when it has happened practically in yer own backyard.  The author apparently began this book in 1993 after coming across an article in her local newspaper that discussed the epidemic that had happened two centuries before.

This young adult historical fiction tells the story of 14 year old Mattie whose family owns a coffee shop in the city.  Ye follow her story as the yellow fever epidemic unfolds.  She is a typical teenage girl with big dreams and fancies who finds herself growing up fast as the city life unravels around her with every passing day of the fever.  I thought Mattie was a great character and that this book brought the idea of epidemic to life.

The history of Philadelphia is one that I know very little about and it was fascinating to take this look into one of the city’s worse experiences.  I found the details in the story to be engrossing.  I didn’t know that coffee houses were a thing.  Also that there were warring factions of French and American doctors regarding treatment.

Looking through Mattie’s eyes helped bring this period in history to life in a way that reminds me of why I love historical fiction.  And of course as always I love doing further research upon finishing.  The appendix of this novel is full of interesting facts.  If ye like young adult historical fiction, quick reads, and an interesting time period, give this one a gander.

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

It’s late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn’t get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family’s coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie’s concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family’s small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie’s struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Laurie Halse Anderson – Author

To buy the book go to:

fever 1793 – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

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