Melanie's Reviews > The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia C. DeFelice
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's review
Apr 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: children-s-literature, 5th-grade, 6th-grade, apprentices, doctors, death, grief, families, family-tragedy, orphans, medicine, illness, superstitions, connecticut
Read in April, 2012

When Lucas Whitaker loses his entire family to tuberculosis, otherwise known as consumption, he begins to wander. He finds himself at the house of Dr. Beecher who takes him on as his apprentice. Lucas begins to learn about the ins and outs of medicine. But before Lucas left his hometown a neighbor told him of a remedy for the consumption that was rampant in Connecticut at the time. There was a superstitious belief that if a family dug up the body of the first family member to die of the disease it would stop the progression and transmission of any other family cases. Once the body was dug up the family had to cut out the heart and burn it in a fire and then mix the ashes in water and have the afflicted drink the mixture.

Lucas quickly learns that Doc Beecher is no believer in this practice. Doc can't stop the villagers from performing this practice. Even though Lucas takes part in the village ceremony, he's beginning to understand that it's just superstition that helps people feel better.

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