Monday, August 20, 2012

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

A friend gave me Deadlyby Julie Chibbaro (Simon & Schuster - Atheneum) because she knows I like Robin Cook's books--medical, scientific, almost impossible thrillery books. Deadly isn't quite that, but it's worth a read anyway.

In 1906-1907, Prudence Galewski leaves school to take a job with the New York City Department of Health and Sanitation. It's not quite the upscale nanny or shopgirl job her schooling has been preparing her for, but since Prudence's mother is a midwife, typing notes for a sanitary engineer is something that Prudence is a little more interested in than she might otherwise have been.

Once at the Department, Prudence's interest in science blossoms; she has had no real resources on the topic other than a copy of Gray's Anatomy, but now, she's putting together the pieces for an investigation into the woman known as Typhoid Mary, getting her first look through a microscope, and meeting a doctor who happens to be a woman.

All of this is intertwined with a coming of age story. Prudence has a lot going on: a missing dad, an inability to fit in with most other girls her age, an arm's length relationship with Judaism, weird feelings (and weird advice about) some men in her life, a struggle with the ethics of quarantining Mary. But she's really thoughtful, even in her confusion. She's the sort of girl Bella Swan thinks she is, if that makes any sense.

I think this would make a really interesting classroom read in a middle school or high school setting. Despite all of the issues in the book, it's not preachy, and it's surprisingly open-ended, which I think would lead to great discussion.

Weird: My copy has a purply, maybe Jack the Ripper's around the corner sort of cover, like the one at left. I don't know which one you might get if you buy a copy.

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