by Julie Chibbaro
Prudence is interested in disease – what starts it and how to stop it. Which, given the fact she’s attending a school dedicated to educating women on being proper wives and secretaries, is a bit, well, improper.
But Prudence carries on and finds a job working in the Department of Health for a man who investigates the history of disease outbreaks in an attempt to stop their dangerous spread.
Prudence gives us glimpses of her life through her journal entries, covering subjects as broad as losing a father to war and brother to untimely death, working in a profession that barely accepted women and tracking an elusive typhoid fever that appears to have no known cause.
So, full disclosure here. The only reason why I read this book was because of that gorgeous jacket. I don’t know what it is about the yellow/green, but I adore it.
Anyway, right up-front (and this isn’t a spoiler), this is a story about Mary Mallon. Who? you might ask. Well, you might know her better as “Typhoid Mary.” The Irish immigrant that unknowingly spread typhoid to the numerous families she cooked for in the New York area. So, that (and, as usual, the author note at the end) was a new slant in YA fiction (at least, that I’m aware of).
I’m not sure I enjoyed the diary format – but I can’t decide if that’s because I just don’t like that format to begin with or I just didn’t think it worked well with this story. Prudence has a lot going on, so, it was great to see how her mind was working. However, I never really felt connected with her and I feel like it might have been better in a different style. Maybe? Not sure.
On the whole, though, I enjoyed Deadly, if only because the medical history was interesting (like old-school CSI!). It helped that Prudence was well-rounded – not every diary entry was about her work at the Department of Health – and Prudence’s family story was an intriguing mystery, as well. I’m not sure this one would be a fit with everyone, but worth a look if you’re interested at all in historical fiction.
Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
How I read it: e-book, provided for review by the publisher
parting note: seriously, I dig that cover.