Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 251
Challenges: Support Your Local Library Challenge #30


I hadn’t heard of Laurie Halse Anderson until recently. Mostly because I didn’t read much YA until recently either. I decided to start with her historical fiction books.

This book tells the story of fourteen year old Mattie Cook. She helps her widowed mother run a coffee house in Philadelphia. Her grandfather and his pet parrot also live with them. Mattie is a tough ambitious girl who wishes her mother would expand the coffee house and build their business. Mrs. Cook however would rather play it safe and see Mattie successfully married off.

Plans change drastically when the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1973 ravages the city of Philadelphia. Thousands of victims lead to fear and panic. Many inhabitants of the city flee and families touched by the disease struggle to survive. Mattie’s family does not escape the fever and Mattie ends up growing up much faster than either she or her mother anticipated.

I liked this book, but it was definitely on the young end of the YA age range. Clearly well researched with a likeable heroine, it avoids being too predictable. The appendix at the end gives some additional information about the 1793 epidemic which was a nice enhancement to the story and excellent teaching points for the intended young audience.

Rating 3.5/5