Historical YA Fiction Dealing with Pandemics

10 Jun

Events like COVID-19 have happened in the United States before! They just had a different name like the Yellow Fever Epidemic or the Spanish Flu. Regardless of its name, sicknesses like this have many of the same devastating effects on the people exposed to them. Here are two historical fiction YA books that can give you a new perspective on how people in the past fought their version of COVID-19. 

A Death-Struck Year
by Makiia Lucier
Death Struck Year

World War I is happening overseas, and the Spanish Flu is in town. Walk with Cleo on her journey of survival and coming of age in A Death Struck Year. She was stranded in her Oregon town with no one; her parents died years before, and her brother is in another city. A quarantine is enacted in her village. She learns of her mortality through her volunteer work with the Red Cross. Cleo goes door-to-door knowing that she’s putting herself In harm’s way, but can’t help but help others. 

Fever, 1793
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fever 1793

 The Yellow Fever of 1793 is seen through the eyes of a teenage Matilda Cook in Fever, 1793. It was not enough that America had just gained its independence from Britain only ten years before. An epidemic runs rampant in what was then the capital of the United States, Philadelphia. People were getting sick, and no one knew how it was spreading or how to fight it. Matilda’s mother sends her to live with family outside of town but is turned away because of quarantine orders. When Matilda gets sick, she learns through the experience, how much this disease impacts the city. Just as she recovers, her widowed mother gets sick. The reader gets to see Matilda learn to grow up fast and even risk helping others in a time of chaos. A great nonfiction book to pair with this fiction book choice is An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy that is also available on eBook through Hoopla and eLibrary NJ.  Both eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS also offer Fever, 1793 as a digital audiobook.

Interested in sharing your own story during pandemic; click here to learn more.

Written by:
Elbie Love
YA Library Associate

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