Laurie Halse Anderson (Young Adult Fiction)
It started with the sudden death of a young and healthy girl. Within a week, 64 more would die from yellow fever and the capital city of Philadelphia would be filled with the endless ringing of bells—one toll for every year the victim had lived.
In the summer of 1793, 14-year old Matilda Cook helps run her family’s coffeehouse, where folks idly gossip or talk politics. Lately, the conversations have turned to the fever: Is it a sign from God? A punishment for sinners? Did the refugees bring it with them? As death draws closer, she and her grandfather are forced to flee the city for the safety of the country. But Matlida soon discovers that death is not easily escaped.
Anderson gives us a compelling, gripping, and suspenseful account of one of the worst epidemics in the history of the United States. Wiping out 10% of Philadelphia’s population in under three months, the effects of the fever were devastating. Many fled the city to escape the carnage, but it was those who stayed and tended to the sick, as well as the dead, that were the true heroes.
You don’t have to be a fan of history to thoroughly enjoy this book. From the first page, the plot never slows and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat. It reminds us how even the direst of circumstances can often bring out the best in people and that both disease and heroism are not bound by either social status or race.