Mar 05

The {Teen} Book Scene: Dear Diary Review of Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

Julie and The {Teen} Book Scene: I apologize for this being late! I had major computer issues today and wasn’t able to get on the computer.

By: Julie Chibbaro
Publisher: Antheneum Books for Young Readers
Pub. Date: February 2011
Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Electronic
Pages: 304
Genre: YA Contemporary Paranormal
Age Group: Middle Grade and Younger Teens
Source: Publisher

Follow Julie Chibbaro on: Twitter | Website | goodreads
Purchase DEADLY on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB

Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

Review: I’d like to first thank Simon & Schuster for sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.




I’ve read various accounts of Typhoid Mary — in fiction and in nonfiction — but I have never read fiction book which makes her a sympathetic character. DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro is a solid look behind the history of Mary Mallon aka Typhoid Mary for teens. The story features a fantastic protagonist named Prudence Galewski and just as fabulous setting – New York, 1906.

Prior to the opening of the novel, Prudence has lost her beloved brother in a tragic accident and her father has been missing for years in the Spanish-American War. She lives with her mother and attends a training school for young women. But Prudence isn’t satisfied with her life. She wants more. She enjoys learning about science and dreams of being a scientist, but in the early 1900s that’s lofty goals for a teen girl. Yet Prudence doesn’t let that stop her. When she discovers an opportunity to work with the New York City Department of Health and Sanitation, her teacher, Mrs. Browning is aghast that she would consider such a thing. Mrs. Browning feels young ladies should work at fashion house, a department store or be a secretary at a bank. But Prudence has been assisting her mother, a midwife, and is very comfortable in her chosen field…after all she’s a budding scientist!

Soon, Prudence begins working with a scientist, Mr. Soper, to figure out how people contract diseases, particularly a typhoid that is beginning to sweep the city. The story is interesting and held my interest, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough said about the disease itself. However, I enjoyed Prudence’s story and connected with her as the narrator. Aside from Prudence’s own family troubles, she feels lost at home after her best friend moves away. I thought even though this gives Prudence more of a background, but I didn’t see how it relates to the story. Prudence often obsesses over what her best friend might be doing, who she’s dating and who her new friends are. These things got in the way of the plot. I don’t believe it moved the plot forward. I would have liked to know a little bit more about Mr. Soper. This would have given him more dimension.

All in all, I did like how the story is told in diary accounts. It moves quickly and I finished it fairly fast. The book is for teens, but I think anyone would have fun reading the story. The tone of the book is very light and not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be more scary and gruesome in detail as far as the disease and its victims, especially, with the title of DEADLY and the eerie, fog drenched cover. I wish there had been more focus on the disease itself and not about who might be spreading it. The story reads a lot like a detective story, in this regard. There’s a lot of scientific information given, but I don’t feel it detracted from the story.

The setting is well-described and comes to life off the pages. I could easily picture the turn of the century New York — from the sights and sounds to the smells of the city. This was probably my favorite part of the book.

I also thought it was a great spin to give Typhoid Mary a human face instead of just knowing about a virus. I didn’t know much about the person behind the virus, so it was interesting in that regard. Throughout the story, Prudence and her boss, Mr. Soper have difficulty figuring out who is getting everyone sick. I am also glad that I read the author’s note,  because I hate to admit it but I normally would have skipped this part, about the real Mary Mallon after finishing the novel. It gave me a more rounded perspective on Mary.

I’m giving DEADLY 3.5 “Diaries” being an interesting historical fiction account for young readers.






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3 Responses to “The {Teen} Book Scene: Dear Diary Review of Deadly by Julie Chibbaro”

  1. hrose2931 says:

    I was interested to learn who Typhoid Mary was. I looked her up one day when my mom was calling me that after I had a cough that wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t believe the story. And that was just a small wiki entry. I think I’d like to read this one. Too bad the focus wasn’t more on the disease though. It sure did ravage the country.
    I loved your review, very honest and thought provoking.

    hrose2931 recently posted..SKID OUT Music Madness Giveaway and Blog Tour

  2. Jenny says:

    I hadn’t read anything on Typhoid Mary before picking this one up, but I did like how she managed to garner my sympathy despite the fact that she refused to acknowledge the possibility that she was making people ill. I would have loved a little more on Mr. Soper as well, it seemed like he had a lot of potential but we never quite got to see beneath the surface. Fabulous review Julie!
    Jenny recently posted..Interview: Thea Harrison + Oracle’s Moon

  3. I’m a science nerd so this sounds really great. Thanks for the recommend.