In her 1906 journal, Prudence worries and dreams and sketches, wondering why doctors couldn’t save her brother’s life, why her father hasn’t returned from the Spanish-American War, how she can make a difference for those who suffer in her neighborhood.
The etiquette lessons and needlework at her school seem so trivial, compared to the life and death, joy and pain that Pru and her mother see during Marm’s midwife duties. When final-year students are encouraged to get part-time jobs using their skills on those newfangled typewriters, Pru leaps at the chance to do useful work.
She is hired by the new Department of Health and Sanitation as a research assistant and is soon swept into their investigation of a typhoid outbreak. Mr. Soper investigates every aspect of any household where the deadly disease has struck. They travel throughout New York City as typhoid sickens some people and kills others – is there a common cause?
When they discover that a healthy cook has been in the kitchen of every typhoid-stricken family, Mr. Soper and Prudence must find medical experts who can help them prove their unusual theory and stop the epidemic.
A compelling account of Typhoid Mary’s history, retold from a young woman’s point of view. When does the public good override individual freedom? Does science have more answers or more questions? Will Prudence take the next step and become a doctor herself?
Recommended by Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian) Gilmer, Texas, USA
When Prudence sees how many people in her city are sick with fever, she becomes curious about how this disease is spreading to so many people.As a result, when she attains a job working as a scientist’s assistant, Prudence drops out of her all-girls school, where she is learning skills in order to someday run a household.Because it is not common for girls in the early twentieth century to pursue careers in science, Prudence must work that much harder at being taken seriously.When her employer, Mr. Soper discovers a woman who, despite her own good health, may be carrying the deadly disease inside her, Prudence assists in tracking this woman down.Based on the actual story of “Typhoid Mary,” this thought-provoking novel raises many questions about the balance of individual rights versus the health and safety of an entire community.Fans of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly will enjoy this satisfying work of historical fiction.
Recommended by Carrie Shaurette, Librarian