By Laurie Halse Anderson
During the summer of 1793 Philadelphia was hit with an epidemic of Yellow Fever.
This is the story of one family's struggle to survive.
Sixteen year old Mattie Cook lives above the coffee house her mother and grandfather own and run. She works in the coffee house alongside their cook, a free black woman named Eliza.
Ms. Anderson's writing is impeccable, sprinkling historic facts in with the fiction of her character.
Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a letter or newspaper or journal, describing the happenings in the city.
President George Washington and others leave the city at the end of the term for the summer recess, missing the epidemic.
Mattie's mother sends her off to stay with friends in the country until the worse is over. But she never makes it there. Her grandfather, who was traveling with her, fell sick, not of the Yellow Fever, but the people were so paranoid they abandoned them on the side of the road.
She is taken to a hospital where French doctors who have experience treating Yellow Fever, save her life as well as her grandfather's. She makes her way back to Philadelphia, searching for her mother.
Mattie Cook goes from a child avoiding chores, to do doing what she must to stay alive.
At the end of the book are author notes with further information about the period and the history of medicine.
I can see why this book should be on the list for "Must Read".