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7.01.2016

Book Report - Fever 1793 and The Bell Jar

Here's a couple more books I read last year as part of my Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge.  Laurie Halse Anderson's, Fever 1793, marked off "A book based on a true story" and Sylvia Plath's, The Bell Jar, marked off "A book written by someone under 30".

First up, Fever 1793.
It's the summer of 1793, and Yellow Fever is starting to spread throughout Philadelphia. Fourteen-year-old, Mattie Cook, is helping her mother run their family's coffee house along with her grandfather and their cook, a freed slave named Eliza. When the fever hits the Cook family, Mattie and her grandfather are forced to flee the city. While away, Philadelphia becomes a very different place, and upon her return, Mattie grows up quickly as she starts helping those that were too poor to leave the city when the fever hit and attempts to salvage the business her family worked so hard to build.

Fever 1793 is a well-written young adult novel that brings a bit of history to life for the reader. It's a fictional tale set during true events. The Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793 killed 5,000 people (10% of Philadelphia's population) in just three months. I'd say I can't even imagine the devastation, but Anderson does such a great job of describing the events for the reader you'll feel like you're there. Seeing the events unfold through the eyes of 14-year old Mattie brought such a personal perspective to the story. Mattie's resilience and bravery make her an excellent heroine for young readers out there. I did enjoy the story, but this is most definitely a book for the pre-teen/early teen crowd.

Next up, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
It's 1953 and 19-year old Esther Greenwood has landed a one-month internship at a women's magazine in New York City. As the weeks go by, Esther becomes more and more disillusioned with her life and sinks slowly into a depression that threatens to consume her completely.

I really wanted to love The Bell Jar. Every time I had heard it referenced it always seemed right up my alley - dark, moody, and female psyche centered. I was expecting a lot from it, and while it didn't exactly fall short of my expectations, it didn't quite live up to them either. It's a really great read, but it felt scattered to me at times. I wasn't always sure where it was going. I'm also not a big fan of open endings. I like closure, and don't always want to wonder or be left to my own devices to try and interpret. Despite that though, I'm positive I'll read this one again. In fact, I think it will be even better the second time around. Now that I have the basic story under my belt, I'd love to go back and really dissect it more. The Bell Jar may not be a book for everyone, but for those drawn to dark and sad stories (like myself), it's definitely worth exploring.

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