The New York Times
Deadlyby Julie Chibbaro, Jean-Marc Superville Sovak
A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York.
Could the city’s future rest with its most unlikely scientist?
If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the/i>… See more details below
A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York.
Could the city’s future rest with its most unlikely scientist?
If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.
With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there’s no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?
Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she’ll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.
The New York Times
"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... 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.... 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."
"Paced like a medical thriller, "Deadly" is the rare Y.A. novel in which a girl’s intellectual interests trump adolescent romance. A 16-year-old Jewish tenement dweller in 1906 New York pines away days at a finishing school on scholarship and nights helping midwife young mothers. When she quits school to assist the Department of Health and Sanitation in its pursuit of "Typhoid Mary," she is awakened to nascent opportunities for women in science."
--New York Times Book Review, March 13, 2011
Fever 1793 (Laurie Halse Anderson, 2000) meets Newes from the Dead (Mary Hooper, 2008) in this absorbing diary of a fictional teen who witnesses the epidemic unleashed on turn-of-the-20th-century New York by the infamous "Typhoid Mary." Sixteen-year-old science-minded Prudence gets the chance to use her deductive talents when she is hired as an assistant in the Department of Health and Sanitation. There, she helps her "chief" investigate outbreaks of typhoid. When one case leads them to suspect Mary Mallon, an Irish cook, of being a healthy carrier who is unknowingly spreading the disease, Prudence is torn between her medical rationality and her compassion for the woman's untenable situation. She must also deal with a male co-worker's unwelcome attention and unresolved feelings of abandonment since her father was declared missing in the Spanish American War. Rich period details about the study of medicine and the role of women in society combine with Prudence's girlish crush on her chief and her earnest desire to "do something astonishing with my life" to make this a title that will appeal to reluctant readers and historical fiction fans alike.(author's note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
- Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
September 7, 1906
I know that one day I won’t be on this earth anymore. A world without the physical me—what will that look like? I’ll seep down into the soil, become a plant, a tree; I’ll be falling leaves, yellow, crunching under a child’s feet until I am dust. Nothing. Gone.
Every September, the shivers come over me, thoughts of my brother’s terrifying death, and the questions—why did his short life end? Why do people have to die?
I write here, trying to explain, each word a stepping stone. These words illuminate my past; they bring me forward, to the future. They help me remember.
Without my writing, I would suffer an emptiness worse than I feel now.
Today there are great holes in me. I feel like a secret observer, separate from everything that goes on around me. Peering from my window just above the storefronts of this creaky building on Ludlow Street where I’ve lived since the morning of my birth, I watch Mrs. Zanberger at the vegetable cart below. She argues with Miss Lara over the price of onions the way she does every Sunday. Behind her, Kat Radlikov drags her heavy skirt through the mud, her belly swollen, her husband hiding in the shadows of their rooms. In front of the grocer’s, Ruth Schmidt smiles under her patched parasol at Izzy Moscowitz, who works too hard to notice her. I see the Feldman sisters from upstairs chasing each other through puddles like boys, with finally a morning free from the factory. Under the butcher’s canopy, their mother talks with other mothers from the neighborhood, their faces dark with worry.
I know them, these girls and women, I’ve seen their families grow, they’ve seen mine get smaller. When I’m in their company, I listen to them trade recipes and sewing tips, I smile at their gossip about each other, yet I can’t find a word to add. My eyes get stuck on the sadness in their mouths, or their red, chapped hands, and suddenly I’m imagining their lives—what they dream about when no one is looking, or what they might be like with fewer children. The women talk around and over me; somehow I feel like I’ll always be looking at them through a distant window.
Even at school, I feel this. When classes started this week, I had in my mind the birth I’d attended with Marm the night before—Sophie Gersh came due around midnight and her mother pounded at our door, her fear thrusting us from our beds. Marm and I rushed after the frightened woman, running full gallop the two blocks to her daughter’s apartment, where the girl’s husband stood outside wringing his hands, and she lay keening in the bedroom like a poor abandoned child. I took my place at the head of the bed, where I held Sophie’s hand and wiped the sweat from her teary eyes and assured her the birth would be good, that all would come out as we planned. Below, Marm did her magic; Sophie’s water broke, she was ready. Working together, the three of us encouraged her baby to come forth into this world. His birth happened easily, a miracle, one of those rare times when Marm and I can clean up the infant and hand him to his mother and happily return to our own beds. We napped an hour before rising to face the day, which was my first day of school.
My schoolmates kissed—we don’t see each other through the summer months; the girls had matured, their faces and bodies grown longer or fatter. I smiled at Josephine, who had become impossibly taller and thinner and prettier, and Fanny, whose round face had finally found its cheekbones. I brushed their cheeks with my lips. I searched their eyes for the start to a conversation; I wanted to tell them about the birth, or Benny, but Josephine started talking about her new job at the perfume counter at Macy’s. She described the glamorous ladies who bought the most expensive ounces, the delicate fabrics they wore, their jewels and dogs. She didn’t stop until Mrs. Browning came in with stout Miss Ruben, our teacher for the year. My heart dropped when I saw it was her. Miss Ruben’s eyes swept the room imperiously and settled on me.
She said, “Girls, I see that some of you are still lacking in the most basic charms. We must correct that situation now. This is your last year before you are released into the world. There is no time left to waste!”
I turned my eyes away from hers and concentrated on the smoke I could see puffing from the stack of the building next door. My stomach soured at the thought of spending my last year with her. Miss Ruben hasn’t liked me since third grade.
At afternoon lunch, I sat in the common room nibbling on my potato knish, listening to Jo and Fanny, feeling as if my insides were made of India rubber and all their words bounced around without touching me. I again attempted to tell them about the beautiful boy whose birth I had witnessed that very morning, but Josephine’s exuberant chatter drowned out my words before I could form them.
“Oh, Fanny,” she said, “goodness, I forgot to tell you I thought you looked simply darling at the cocoon tea! Where did you buy that sweet dress?”
“Feinstein’s had a special sale,” Fanny explained. “I saw Dora there, and she convinced me to buy it. Did you hear her father caught her and Mr. Goldwaite holding hands in the back of his carriage? That man is too old for her!”
“He should pair with a dumpling like Miss Ruben, not a girl Dora’s age!” Josephine said. “Have you noticed the way our teacher looks this year? That lip coloring is simply awful on her, don’t you think? And doesn’t she know gray jackets with heavy braids are out of fashion?”
“The way she looks at us,” Fanny said, “you’d think she was the Queen of England!”
The girls laughed, and I shook my head. I longed to be somewhere else, with someone else. I felt inside me that sore place of missing Anushka, and that silly flash of anger—why has she left me alone? Every morning we’d walk to school together, talking about everything under the sun. She’d ask me what I dreamt and thought about. No one does that now. I wish she hadn’t moved away last spring. In her letters from the farm, she writes about someone named Ida. I get a pang of fear when she writes of this girl. I hope Ida has not replaced me. Anushka said speaking to Ida was profound, like walking into a lake and suddenly discovering a drop-off into deeper water.
Oh, I simply ache to have a profound talk with another girl! I’d tell her about Papa and Benny, how our life used to be.
I’ve been sneaking into the temple to read notices on the B’nai community board, those that are not in Hebrew. For our last year of school, we are allowed to work afternoons, but I can’t imagine myself arranging flowers like Sara does at McLean’s Fancy Florist, or using my feminine charms like Josephine to draw in customers at Macy’s perfumery. Mrs. Browning says these sorts of jobs bring us closer to the class of people we strive to be someday, but I want serious employ. Not just for the money, though Marm and I do need it, but for the challenge to my mind. I want to be able to go somewhere and do something important and return home in the evening with soft bills in hand. Is it foolish to want a different type of job than Mrs. Browning trains us for, something more, something bigger than myself?
Truthfully, I hunger for a job that’s meaningful.
© 2011 Julie Chibbaro
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This was a boing book I didn't even finis it. The book did not keep m attention it was a(n) easy book to put down, too easy.
Julie chibarro skyped my class in school after we read the book for class. She is very nice. And before she had her dream to become an author,she was an actress. She went to college and highschool for acting
Deadly is a really good book, though if it would be longer it would be interestiing if Prudence got sweet on Mr.Soper or Jonathan.
Book Title: "Deadly" Author: Julie Chibbaro Published By: Antheneum Books For Young Readers Age Recommended: 13 + Reviewed By: Kitty Bullard Raven Rating: 5 Review: I wouldn't call myself a history buff but I must say there have been many times over the course of my life that I have heard about 'Typhoid Mary' and the story about her. In the early to mid 1900's the spread of disease was the one thing that was prominent in the United States. With immigration at its prime and so many different people entering the country you could never be sure what would come along with them. Even the boats that carried them to our shores were often infested with rats that carried disease as well and many of those rats began to colonize here in America during this time. The story "Deadly" by Julie Chibbaro highlights the path of Mary Mallon an Irish immigrant that gained employment in many of the wealthiest households in America during this time. Through the journal entries of Prudence Galewski, we learn much about the mystery surrounding this woman and how even in its infancy the department of sanitation had a hard time pinpointing the reasons behind so much illness and often times death in the case of Typhoid Fever. The journey throughout this book is one that will not only make you think about how technology has changed so much today, but how some people can be carriers and not even realize it due to the fact they never get sick from disease themselves. Science is an amazing thing and there will never be a time when it will not surprise us. I love history, anything to do with any type of history always profoundly amazes me and draws me in and I have to say this book was not an exception. Julie Chibbaro writes with intelligence and the evidence of her extensive research on these times and the content of her book is prominent. I enjoyed this book not only for its profound historical background but for the story itself and how well she portrayed the characters, their emotions and feelings and her ability to draw the reader into that time period allowing them to see first-hand just what it was like living in a world that was still so very new. Prudence Galewski's amazement and wonder at the world of science and disease is catching. She is by far one of the most amazing character creations I have come across in any books so far and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her thoughts on society, disease, science and everything she came across. This young woman was one that believed in keeping her eyes wide open and learning all she could about the importance of sanitation and the need to control the spread of disease for the sake of the people. I definitely think Julie Chibbaro is a fantastic writer and I long to read more of her work. Her book "Redemption" is going to be added to my must-read collection and I hope others will take the opportunity to read "Deadly" as well. It matters not if you are a lover of history, you will find a new excitement for the subject simply by reading this book!
deadly was almost a no-go for me, but it starts to get interesting after the first couple of chapters - it's when Prudence gets a job at the Department of Health and Sanitation that the story really picks up some steam. Before then, we had to endure the trials of finishing school where girls either learn to be housewives or governesses or some other seemingly unexciting things. Prudence never fits in that mold, and she has the luck of landing a secretary joy with the perks of also being assistant to the head epidemiologist. Call me nerd or dork or obsessed health nut, but I really appreciated deadly's focus on typhoid, particularly the story about Typhoid Mary, when we were first understanding how infection actually worked. Those were exciting times - and I tend to forget that as textbooks give you the dry facts without the emotions that surely coursed through the scientists. deadly is an excellent historical read with a narrator who will surely infect you with the same fascination that she experiences while on the edge of discovering the source of the typhoid epidemic. It was startling to see the various reactions when fingers get pointed at Mary - the servants and Irish immigrants who want to protect their own, the infected families who only see a healthy cook who is able to nurse them back to health, the Department who want to locate and isolate the source of infection, and Prudence's inner turmoil of how the accusations will affect an actual human's life. I'm not sure what to make of the ending. Although I am really pleased with how Prudence turned out, the ending seemed a little too wishy-washy and I wish it provided a little more resolution to what happens to Typhoid Mary, Prudence, and the rest of the characters involved .