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Click for availability and more information Fever, by Mary Beth Keane
Fever is the retelling of Mary Mallon's aka "Typhoid Mary" story. The author has a vivid form of storytelling akin to an oral history unfolding. History tells us that Mary Mallon's "healthy carrier" genetic trait was a huge medical discovery for its time. She was the first to be exposed and sent to trial and socially outcasted/isolated. Keane's novel is in the perspective of the main character. We can relate to Mary Mallon's strife in her bewilderment and denial of her being responsible for the spread of typhoid fever to anyone she cooked for. We learn that Mary's dream as a young adult was to become a cook; she took pleasure in creating exquisite meals for her wealthy employers. We also grasp how not only did Mary have to continue her everyday life as a threat to society but also we learn about her personal life and how in early 20th century she was also scorned by her peers about her companionship with Alfred, her boyfriend of 20+ years. Although they never married and due to her first isolation from the Department of Health, Alfred reacts in a way anyone would in light of uncertainty. Through the character Alfred, Keane brings to light addiction of alcohol and narcotics. In the early 20th century, opium and heroin were used loosely as a form of pain medication, it isn't until years later that it is learned that these now illicit drugs create life-threatening addictions and cause of deaths.

Lastly through Mary we learn about societal issues that she dealt with in her generation that we continue to face today in the 21st century. Fever is an intriguing read than many can enjoy.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on August 7, 2013 4:43 PM.

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