Carrie's Reviews > Deadly

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
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Jul 25, 12

Read in July, 2012

Prudence Galewski is a curious “science-minded” girl living in a time when girls became secretaries, book keepers, nannies, or wives. Prudence knows that, as she looks for her first job, she must find something that is going to stretch her mind and challenge her abilities. She is overjoyed when her first (and only) job offer comes from the New York Department of Health and Sanitation. She is offered the position of an assistant who will take field notes and assist on investigations into the causes and spread of diseases – a topic close to her heart. However, Prudence was not prepared for her first case to be one of such magnitude. Prudence and her boss begin with an investigation of a family in rural New York who have all come down with typhoid fever and end up with a case of an Irish cook who has worked for multiple families and left sickness and death in her wake. But, how will they be able to prove that the healthy Mary Mellon is actually the source of the sickness when science still knows so little about the invisible killers all around us?

The historical part of this book was GREAT! Based on the author’s notes, it seems that a great deal of research went into accurately telling the story of “Typhoid Mary” and the work of the staff at the NY Dept. of Health and Sanitation. I was fascinated by the telling of how the staff researched the disease, the limited knowledge and technology that they employed to come up with an accurate assessment of the situation, the lengths they went to to find Mary and prove she was the source… it was all amazing. And that story line flowed well… seamlessly. However, I was disappointed in the other story lines and how they ended. To make the work fiction and more interesting to readers, the author added a fictional, young, female narrator – Prudence. During the story, Prudence discovered love, decided to apply to medical school to become one of the few first female doctors, and found out the truth about her long-lost father. However, (view spoiler)

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is about a topic that is rare in literature – there aren’t a lot of books about typhoid fever. It’s interesting and well-written; I was so wrapped up in the story I was able to finish the book in a night. Even though the ending could be better, the main plot line is resolved and that’s what counts. I think this book would be suitable for students ages 12 and up who are interested in history or science. If that sounds like you, grab “Deadly” today!
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