Revisiting an old favorite. Let's see how it went!
During the summer of
1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed
mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and
making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia
has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.
Disease sweeps the
streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world
upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city
with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is
everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city
turned frantic with disease.
MY RATING: 4 STARS
Wow, I still love that cover!
was in the fourth grade when I read this for the first time, and when I
picked it up again for the first time in years I was worried I might
not love it the same way anymore, that it would seem too "juvenile" as
my taste in books evolved.
Not true. It's still every bit as good
as it was the first time. Mattie wasn't an insufferable child
(something I've noticed tends to be a bit more pronounced in other
childhood faves I've reread as I grew older), the language wasn't dumbed
down, and there was still the old terror and urgency that made it so
appealing in the first place. And bonus points for nostalgia! The
chapters are a lot shorter than I've gotten used to, but since this is
aimed at younger readers it's only natural, and it made the action move a
I still cry and cheer at all the same parts and have greater appreciation, dare I say more learned
appreciation, for the extracts heading every chapter. They add a dose
of realism that strikes home, giving a personal view of what it was
really like that summer in Philadelphia, and it gave me chills. Heck,
the whole book still gives me chills! Plague stories scare me as much as
dystopia, and this one more so because it's based on historical FACT.
The breakdown of social order, the widespread panic, the struggle to
survive not just the fever itself but how it impacted everyday
life...*shudders* I'm glad I wasn't there for all of that!
you've got your main event, the big plot element, and now all you need
is a good, strong character to drive things along? Gotcha covered. I
cared about Mattie in the fourth grade, and I still care about her.
She's smart and capable, she can fend for herself when she has to, and
she's not some annoying brat that abounds in YA lit. She is still in
some ways a child, but you could see she was beginning to grow up and
mature, adapting to her circumstances as best she could. All in all, a
good, strong character worthy of driving things along.
line is, it's a tough feat to write a book for young readers that adults
can enjoy as well, but I think Ms. Anderson scored with this one.
Your humble book nerd,