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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (4)
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico
- New York (4)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (6)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (3)
- Washington (3)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming (1)
- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Terrible Typhoid Mary Tells Fascinating, True Tale

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Most of us have probably heard of Typhoid Mary, but what do we really know about the woman behind the headline?  Not much, probably.  In Terrible Typhoid Mary, Susan Campbell Bartoletti seeks to remedy that by telling the true story of Mary Mallon, a healthy woman with a nasty habit of passing typhoid to those she served.  Using newspaper accounts, historical photographs, and personal letters, Bartoletti shares the relatively little that is known about Mallon, weaving a fascinating tale of disease, fear, and paranoia in turn-of-the-century America.  

Born in Ireland in 1869, Mallon immigrated to The United States as a young teenager.  She became a cook, who worked for wealthy families in New York.  Hardworking and dependable, she was a trusted member of those households.  It was only when members of all the families for whom she worked became sick with typhoid (at least one of whom died) that Mallon came under suspicion.  George Soper, a 36-year-old sanitation engineer who investigated the cook, accused her of carrying the deadly disease.  He urged her to stop cooking for others and to give herself over for scientific study.  Rarely ill, Mallon found the suggestion that she was making others sick utterly ludicrous; that anyone could be a "healthy" carrier of typhoid seemed beyond ridiculous.  And yet, that's exactly what she was.  Soper's aggressive quest to stop Mallon eventually led to her arrest, quarantine, and many years of exile on isolated North Brother Island.   

The story of Mary Mallon is as sad as it is compelling.  Bartoletti's sympathetic but balanced telling brings the time period to life, showing the ignorance and fear that prevailed when it came to deadly, communicable diseases.  How Mallon got caught up in the murky ethics of it all is also brought to light.  Right or wrong, what happened to the cook makes for engrossing reading.  Although the biography is written for children, Terrible Typhoid Mary is not for the squeamish.  It's got plenty of blood and guts type detail that will turn delicate stomachs.  Nevertheless, it's an engrossing account, one that will definitely keep the curious riveted to its pages.  

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for vague references to sex, and blood-and-guts descriptions

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

Quiet Middle Grade Novel An Affecting Little Gem

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone knows Trent Zimmerman didn't kill Jared Richards on purpose.  Although Trent hit the puck that struck Jared in the chest, resulting in a fatal response due to the boy's heart condition, Trent certainly didn't intend to cause Jared's death.  It was a heartbreaking accident, a rotten streak of bad luck, a cruel twist of fate.  And yet, Trent can't stop blaming himself.  Guilt and grief eat him up inside, manifesting themselves in an uncontrollable rage that boils just below the surface.  Sketching out his feelings helps Trent a tiny bit, but he knows if he's not careful, his anger will explode and destroy what little peace he still has in his life.

Enter Fallon Little.  The eccentric sixth grader already stands out enough with the big, mysterious scar that mars his face.  So, why does she insist on drawing even more attention to herself by wearing crazy clothes and just being ... weird?  And why can't she leave Trent alone?  Everyone else has learned to steer clear of him, so why won't Fallon?  Instead, she chats him up, tries to sneak peeks at his sketchbook, and invites him to her house to watch boring old movies.  The screwy thing is, after a while, he doesn't really mind.  In fact, he kind of likes being with bright, funny Fallon.  Even if she won't tell him what really happened to her face.

As the kids—each scarred in their own way—grow closer, they both find surprising chances to start over, to mend fences, and to heal.

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff is a quiet book.  It moves slowly, without melodrama, without pretense.  It simply tells a story about two wounded kids who find strength in friendship.  Through Trent and Fallon, the reader learns some important, but not heavy-handed, lessons about forgiving oneself and healing through helping others.  Although Lost in the Sun doesn't offer a lot of action or suspense, it's a perfect novel to hand to reluctant readers, especially sports-minded boys who can identify with a good-kid-consumed-by-overwhelming-emotions character like Trent.  Personally, I found it to be an affecting gem of a book.

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing's coming to mind.  Help?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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