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Deadly Hardcover – February 22, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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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 1.3 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 (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,100,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Deadly features a thing I adore- a female scientist who is driven by her curiosity about the world rather than some need to be loved, or ancient prophecy, or whatever. In this case, she's also Jewish, poor, and has a father who is MIA from the Cuban war.

If that weren't enough to bring me along for the ride, there's also the question of friendships as we grow up, the sacrifices inherent in following dreams, the necessity for balance in life, unrequited love, unwanted advances, and no 'evil' characters.

I really loved Prudence and her cold, analytical curiosity. She became, somewhat ironically, the point of compassion with regard to Mary Mallon, Typhoid Mary of the early 1900s. Like the author, I always envisioned Mary Mallon as a dirty, lazy cook who spread disease through negligence. To learn that she was, in her own right, extraordinary and pretty starched was startling. I guess I, too, don't understand what it is to be a healthy carrier of a deadly disease.

The ending is open-ended (more for Prudence than Mary, as the author's note addresses what became of poor Mary). But I tend to favor that, especially considering the protagonist is at the beginning her adulthood, and what promises to be an amazing journey as one of America's first female research scientists.

In all, I recommend this for fans of historical fiction, science in the early 1900s, young adult novels, analytical female protagonists, and the kind of diversity that doesn't seem like an afterthought for popularity.
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