Fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook enjoys the bustle and energy of Philadelphia in 1763. The Nation's capital is filled with people and Mattie has great ambitions for her family's coffee shop. However, soon the summer's unseasonable warmth has sapped the city's energy and fever is beginning to sap its life. As the death toll climbs, more and more people flee the city. Mattie's mother insists on sending her to the country, but even there she isn't free from the effects of yellow fever.
In this frightening story of Philadelphia's 1793 epidemic, Laurie Halse Anderson gives a detailed view of colonial life and medical practices. She also tells an intriguing coming of age story. As Mattie Cook struggles to survive and save those she loves, she learns valuable lessons about herself and the world in which she lives. This historical fiction is appropriate for young adult readers, but educational for adults as well. It covers the fear brought by an epidemic, but also shows the strength of charity and service in a difficult time.