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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

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There should be a shrine built for 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, as well as the work that she's produced.

I was first introduced to her when I read Fever 1793, which was a fictional book about the yellow fever epidemic. I sat reading that book cover from cover until I was completely done. When I closed it, I was literally in awe. Not only did I love the book, but I also loved the fact that the story was completely 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 read a book or even heard about it before? At the time, I was probably 12 years old. The books that I got from my age section at the library never broached such depressing yet realistic topics. I needed more.

Fever 1793 was the book that led me to challenge myself and go for books outside of my recommended age group. From then on, I'd devoured classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, murder mysteries by Mary Higgins Clark, and popular YA series like Harry Potter and Twilight. Since then, I've read hundreds of different books from tons of different genres. Yet I always remember Fever 1793 as the book that changed my outlook.

When I picked up Catalyst from my library and realized it was by the same author, I was overjoyed. I had high expectations from Laurie Halse Anderson because of the impression that Fever 1793 left on me. I expected it to be good -- better than good. I expected it to be another real, emotional, truthful, and just plain extraordinary book. And it was. It taught me how imperfect everyone is, even the ones that look like they own the world on the outside. And before the book was over, Anderson yet again surprised me by tragic events that made me challenge the blind that was pulled over age groups and YA literature. She hit at such controversial topics, yet they taught me something that I couldn't have learned any other way. I was able to put myself into her character's shoes and feel their emotions, both good and bad. And that left an effect on me.

My next book by Laurie Halse Anderson was Speak. Parents tend to lead their kids away from topics such as rape. Sure, it's not the most pleasant thing to read about when you're 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 the same 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's gone through such tragic events – has taught me more than I'd ever expect a book to.

Laurie Halse Anderson gave me three heartfelt stories that changed my life and outlook, and I hope she has and will be able to affect other teenagers and children as much as she did me.





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