Thursday, December 30, 2010

YA Historical Fiction Month: Deadly Review

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release date: February 22, 2011
Source: Author

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.


Every time I crack up a historical fiction novel I learn something new, which is why I love them so much. Occasionally the book is about a time period I’ve read about numerous times like Elizabethan England, but in the case of Deadly everything was fresh, new, and interesting. I knew next to nothing about “Typhoid Mary”, including that she was an actual person. She always seemed more like a symbol than an actual human being. Luckily, Deadly opened my eyes to this time in history and kept me engaged and intrigued enough to finish it in one day.

Deadly was written in diary form from the perspective of a teenager named Prudence. Prudence was a very likable main character. Her strength and determination shown throughout and I always wanted the best for her. Reading about things through the eyes of a teenager made the story that much more interesting, especially Prudence’s involvement in everything. She drops out of school to work alongside a group of scientists researching typhoid and how it spreads. From there things get very complicated for Prudence. After much research Prudence and her colleagues discover the connection to all those who succumbed to typhoid- Mary Mallon.

Mary Mallon, also known as “Typhoid Mary”, was another big character in the book. Mary was an Irish immigrant who was unknowingly passing on the typhoid virus to the people at the different houses she worked at. The medical information and facts on typhoid were especially eye opening. Readers not only learned about the people involved, but also how and why the disease was spread. It was still unknown to the people of the time that someone could be a carrier for a disease without actually showing symptoms. Julie Chibbaro definitely did her research and it showed with the numerous facts presented in the book.

I liked the little drawings included in the story and they proved just how dedicated Prudence was to finding out what made humans tick. Her interest in cells and understanding death was a huge aspect of the story.

Although typhoid and Prudence’s involvement in research of it was a key part of the story, there were also several sub plots going on. Prudence’s father was missing and she and her mother didn’t know whether to move on or keep hoping for his return. Also, Prudence experiences her first feelings of love.

All in all, Deadly was an interesting and well researched novel and the main character was likable and determined. I learned a lot reading this and definitely recommend it!

Overall: 4.25 out of 5 stars


  1. Sounds very interesting and I like it when a book gives me some new information I never heard of. :) I like that it's written in a diaryform. Great review.

  2. I'm so glad you reviewed this one positively. I'm really looking forward to reading this book.

  3. Great review! I have this book on my nook and I've been putting of reading it for the longest of times, but now I really want to read it. And by the way, I had no idea Typhoid Mary was an actual person either.

  4. Thanks for this review--I'll be watching for this book. It sounds really interesting!

  5. This looks really cool (apart from the yellow cover, at least!)

    Great review - thanks.


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