Fever 1793, Catalyst, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

There should be a shrine to Laurie Halse Anderson, complete with an eight-foot statue wearing a cape. She is such an important and influential person that all teens should be aware of her work.

I was first introduced to her when I read Fever 1793, which is about the yellow fever epidemic. I read it from cover to cover, and when I closed it, I was literally in awe. I loved the fact that the story was realistic. The yellow fever epidemic really happened, and when I realized that, it was like a light bulb going off in my head. How could such a tragic event happen, yet I’d never heard about it? I was probably 12 years old at that time, and books for my age never broached such depressing yet important topics. I needed more.

Fever 1793 led me to challenge myself and read books outside of my recommended age group. And so I devoured classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, murder mysteries by Mary Higgins Clark, and popular series like Harry Potter and Twilight. And I will always remember Fever 1793 as the book that changed my outlook.

When I picked up Catalyst at my library and realized it was by the same author, I was overjoyed. I had high expectations. I expected it to be good – better than good. I expected it to be another emotional, truthful, and extraordinary book.

And it was. It taught me how imperfect everyone is, even those who act like they own the world. And before the book ends, Anderson surprised me again with tragic events that pushed the limits of young-adult literature. She hit at controversial topics, yet taught me something that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I was able to put myself into her characters’ shoes and feel their emotions, both good and bad. And that had an effect on me.

My next book by Anderson was Speak. Parents tend to lead their kids away from topics like rape. Sure, it’s not the most pleasant thing to read about as a child, but rape happens to kids all around the world. It’s there and it’s the plain raw truth, no matter how difficult it may be.

So when I read Speak and learned how much someone can be affected by rape, it hit me straight in the heart. Here I was again, reading yet another controversial book by this author, yet I didn’t have any of the reactions that adults would assume. I didn’t feel scared or worried, I felt grateful and sympathetic. Being able to see through the eyes of someone else – someone who has gone through these tragic events – taught me more than I’d ever expected from a book.

Anderson gave me three heartfelt stories that changed my life and outlook, and I hope she will continue to affect others like me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 19 comments. Post your own now!

H.Stanford said...
Dec. 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm
I've read Wintergirls and it disturbed me alot. I LOVE Chains and Forge, about the slave girl and boy in the 1700s. I'm definately reading Fever 1793 now!
renthead96 said...
Jul. 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorites as well. I don't know if you have yet, but read Wintergirls as well. It's about a girl struggling with anorexia after a tragedy involving her best friend. I thought nothing would be better than Speak, but Wintergirls, in my opinion, was even better.
Ravenfall47 replied...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm
I read Speak for school and really liked the book, though it was quite different from what I usually read. I'm glad to find out about more books by this author and definitely want to read them sometime. Anderson is a really good author, period. ;)
KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 3, 2012 at 9:30 am
I agree (although mine was recommended by my teacher). This makes me want to check out Fever 1973, which I think I'll do on Monday. Good review!
Overcome said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 3:53 pm
I love Lauire Halse Anderson. If you haven't already you should read Wintergirls.
SpringRayyn said...
Feb. 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm
I love Lauire Halse Anderson! I've only read one of the books you have though; Speak. Have you read Wintergirls or Twisted? In my opinion, Wintergirls was good, but I was dissapointed in Twisted. It was just the style that made me sad after reading Wintergirls and Speak, I expected something more like that--but from a boy's point of veiw. I should probably stop ramboling on comments, i should just write my own article about it, but hey, you started it. C:
GirRox said...
Oct. 10, 2010 at 1:36 pm
Laura said...
Sept. 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm
You should know that Laurie Halse Anderson just asked if she could adopt you on her Twitter account. Are you in? I would be!
Allison said...
Sept. 23, 2010 at 6:10 pm

"I didn’t have any of the reactions that adults would assume. I didn’t feel scared or worried, I felt grateful and sympathetic."

That is wonderful.  I think adults often underestimate teenagers, so I appreciate this proof that teens can gain a lot more from books like Speak than what the adults think they can.

Beazzz said...
Sept. 17, 2010 at 10:52 am
I loved the book It was written Very well.
SonOfApollo said...
Jul. 26, 2010 at 5:02 am
I loved Fever, I read it in fifth grade with my class, it was so good I finished the book like 2 weeks before the other students!
QueenBeatrice said...
Apr. 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm
I loved this book, I thought it was very interesting. I also thought that the auther did a wonderful job writing it!! I can't really explain how much i love this book! it made me cry and laugh at times. i just love it!
notebookgirl said...
Jan. 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm
I tried to read it when i was like 8 years old but it made me too sad and I didn't finish it, it's still on my shelf maybe I will read it after all
StormyJ said...
Jan. 1, 2010 at 11:06 am
I love Fever 1793 when I was in 6th Grade it was on the Battle of the Books List it was amazing!!!!!!!
lalagirl14 said...
Jul. 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm
this is an amazing book it mad me cry really hard when mattie's grandfather died and really happy when the fever was over and mattie and her mom were reunited!!!
Anonymous said...
Oct. 19, 2008 at 11:22 pm
Oh my gosh. Love the reveiw so much I read Fever 1793 myself. It is an awesome book that everyone should read.
melissa miss little bad girl123 said...
Oct. 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm
hey good job on all your books need some bios on you plzzzz
tehfuzzypenguin said...
Sept. 4, 2008 at 8:56 pm
Speak is possibly one of the most gorgeous books I've ever read. I mean really. Realism, imagery, character--it's all fantastic.
Marina said...
Aug. 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm
I loved Fever 1793 so I am sure I will enjoy her other books. Thank you
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