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Deadly Hardcover – February 22, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-There's plenty to think about and discuss in this diary-format novel based on the notorious case of Mary Mallon, also known as "Typhoid Mary." It's 1906 and 16-year-old Prudence is in her final year at a school for girls where cultivating the skills and charms necessary to attract a financially secure husband is the primary educational objective. The school allows senior students to seek part-time secretarial work but, unlike most of her classmates, Prudence isn't interested in being an ornamental "Gibson Girl." Instead, she craves a job where she can actually make a difference. She's always been scientifically curious, particularly regarding the nature of infection and disease. She's seen way too much ugliness growing up among the impoverished tenements of New York City and assisting her midwife mother. When she lands a position as assistant to an epidemiologist working for the Department of Health and Sanitation, she quits school completely to help investigate the microbial mystery of Mary Mallon, an immigrant cook and suspected "healthy carrier" of typhus, who adamantly denies she's been unwittingly infecting a series of employers' families and instead insists she's the victim of anti-Irish discrimination. A deeply personal coming-of-age story set in an era of tumultuous social change, this is top-notch historical fiction that highlights the struggle between rational science and popular opinion as shaped by a sensational, reactionary press.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

The year is 1906. Sixteen-year-old Prudence lives in a New York City tenement with her mother and attends a school where she feels like a misfit. Haunted by memories of her brother’s painful dying and by unanswered questions about her father, who never returned from the Spanish-American War, she longs to fight death itself. Prudence takes a job with the health department, where she helps track down the source of a typhoid outbreak, a healthy carrier now remembered as Typhoid Mary. Written as a series of journal entries, the story opens rather bleakly as Prudence writes about her family’s poverty, her sense of loss, and her loneliness. But as she discovers a sense of purpose, the narrative becomes increasingly involving and satisfying. In an author’s note, Chibbaro comments on her research and her own family history. Occasional line drawings, evidently representing Prudence’s sketches, illustrate the text. An absorbing historical novel in which the heroine’s professional goals take precedence over matters of the heart. Grades 7-10. --Carolyn Phelan

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 930L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689857381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689857386
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I like to sky-dive (though I've never been), eat chocolate ants (though I never have), and run marathons (I can hardly walk a mile). Ok, mostly, I like to make stuff up. That's called writing novels (that part is true!)

The more regular facts: I'm the author of Deadly (Simon & Schuster 2011), a medical mystery about the hunt for Typhoid Mary. Deadly won the 2011 National Jewish Book Award, and was Top 10 on the American Library Association's Amelia Bloomer Project list. Deadly was named Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association for 2012 and was a Bank Street Best Book. The novel has received excellent reviews from such journals as The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal.

My first book, Redemption (Simon & Schuster 2004), an epic tale of love, kidnapping, and white Indians, won the 2005 American Book Award. In 2015, my new novel Into the Dangerous World, with drawings by Jean-Marc Superville Sovak, will be published by Viking.

You can find me at Come say hi!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sandra K. Stiles on February 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The case of Typhoid Mary was something I grew up believing was just a myth, until I started this book. About half way through the book I found I had to stop and do some research of my own. Chibarro's facts are very authentic. My research into this person did not diminish my love of this book at all. She addressed several issues of the time. She mentioned the suffragettes and the role women played during that time. The fact that the main character Prudence Galewski is not like the other girls sets this up perfectly. Where other young ladies are looking at getting typing jobs, finding the right man and presenting him with lots of children, Prudence wants to find out what causes diseases and how to prevent them. There was a lot to learn about the beginning of the medical studies into bacteria. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a book I couldn't stop reading once I started. I will definitely recommend it to everyone I know.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teddy on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It is 1906, New York City and 16 year old Prudence Galewski takes a job as an assistant to the Head Epidemiologist, Mr. Soper. Prudence has always been interested in science and feels very fortunate to land a job in the field. It is practically unheard of for a woman to get such a job. In fact, some of the men in the lab give her a hard time.

Soon after starting her and Mr. Soper start investigating a new outbreak of Typhoid. They visit the different families who have the dreaded disease and write down all of the different foods they have eaten and take samples from their septic systems. Soon Prudence finds a food that links all of the families, peach ice cream. It turns out that they all have a cook who has worked for all of them, who made the peach ice cream for them.

It was recently discovered by a scientist that disease could be carried by a healthy person. The person doesn't get sick but can pass the illness on to others.

"The challenge ahead of us is to find this elusive cook and test her for the typhoid germ by examining her body fluids."

The cook, Mary Mallon has moved around a lot but Prudence and Mr. Soper finally tracks her down. She refuses to get tested, she can't understand how she could make people sick when she, herself is not sick.
Mary Mallon was a real person who was to become known as Typhoid Mary. Julie Chibbaro takes a piece of history and runs with it. She developed her main character Prudence well and we see her learn and grow. As I read the story I kept thinking to myself, "you go girl, show people that not all women should be chained to a house with no other aspirations."

Deadly is geared for young adults. It deals with issues of disease, feminism, and family. It also explores ethical issues. I think it would make for great discussion for a young adult book club. Though there is science in the book, it is well explained in fairly simple terms. I highly recommend it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donna C on March 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A behind-the-scenes look at Typhoid Mary told in epistolary form from the point of view of a teenage girl with a curious mind, Deadly was a swift, fascinating read that had me running from one cover to another. Despite the fact that the letters were mere snippets in Prudence's life, despite the fact that the world is viewed very narrowly through her eyes, I felt everything she felt. I could see her mother, her boss and the female doctor she idolized as clearly as Prudence did.

The voice, while set firmly in the time, was every bit as relevant and poignant as any other voice in a modernly-set YA novel. Prudence had all the issues of a growing woman, only exacerbated by the era that held her brain hostage. Not only did she have to contend with boys, an absent best friend and standards held to her by her mother and her school's owner, Prudence was fighting the tide of female empowerment. She wanted to be a doctor. She held more interest in germs and how they worked than being a counter girl at a department store and marrying well. Prudence stood out against the backdrop of Victorian New York and she did it subtly.

Prudence's voice wasn't loud and brazen. She was timid, afraid, hesitant. She was trying to function outside the norms of women of her time and she was only a teenager doing it. Her personality reflected that yet she remained strong despite all the nagging coming at her, trying to get her to act "proper."

The far away love she carried for her boss was heartbreaking. When she took a leap of faith, one that could have rightly ended her career, she had all the normal doubts and regrets of doing it yet she soldiered on. She didn't cave and bury herself far away from him. She faced him and continued doing what she loved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay Horne on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For full review with images: [...]

Deadly is the tale of a Prudence, young girl living in New York in the early 1900s. While she sits in Ms. Browning's school learning how to become a lady, she daydreams about doing something more with her life than getting married and having babies. She practices as a midwife with her mother and learns that there is much more to being a human than meets the eye. It is these experiences that plant a seed in her to learn more about the sciences.

Prudence lands a job as an assistant to one of the chiefs at the Department of Health and Sanitation and spends all of her time involved in the case of "Typhoid Mary." It is through this case that she realizes her strengths and weaknesses, and learns about what roles men and women are expected to play during this time period. She begins realizing what a career in medicine and science would mean for her and how she should navigate to that goal.

Another storyline involves the whereabouts of her father, who went to fight in the Spanish-American War but never returned. She and her mother spend their days waiting for him to come back home, and without spoiling the ending to this story, they do learn his whereabouts.

The novel shows the evolution of Prudence into a young woman as she follows her dreams. I truly loved it for many reasons. First, I love historical fiction and this is set in a very interesting time in the United States - the early 1900s when women struggled in many ways. Second, I am getting more and more interested in books that deal with science and medicine as it evolved throughout history. This novel reminded me very much of Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman, which I also adored.

Deadly also focuses on science pretty heavily.
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