Overall: 4 out of 5 stars.
I blasted through this book, picking it up on Tuesday for book club on Thursday. It’s kind of good that I did because I have a weak stomach, so I really didn’t have time to linger over the gory bits, even if I’d wanted to. We had paired this book with Jim Murphy’s American Plague, which I didn’t finish but which gave a great overview of the facts, especially because the fever first affects Anderson’s characters well into the epidemic, it seems. There were a few details that I was sure Anderson would bring back around because of the way they were introduced. For example, the family owns a parrot that flies away; I was sure he would bring word to the separated family members – ridiculous, yes, but because how it was presented I was disappointed when it didn’t happen. There was also a mysterious object falling to the ground with a thud that I was sure was some secret clue to something and was just casually explained on a later page. That said, the characters were wonderfully alive and I was fully invested in the story and moved whenever characters died (which was, um, all the time). I also thought some of the details of how the free blacks were treated and acted was a bit unrealistic, especially with the contrast in Murphy’s book. Overall, a solid piece of historical non-fiction that addresses a time period and a tragedy hardly even mentioned in history class. (For fifth grade and up.)