Fever by Mary Beth Keanne


reviewed by glenn

Fever traces the life of Mary Mallon in the early 20th century, who migrates to New York City from Ireland at the age of 15.  She eventually finds work as a cook and assists many families in the area.  A pattern of tragedy soon starts to present itself.  Individuals near her become stricken with sickness.  Most recover, some do not.  In due time, a health official identifies Mary as the one responsible for spreading Typhoid.  She is quarantined for an extended period and tested for the bacterium.  She herself is asymptomatic and fights for her release, denying any responsibility.  Eventually she does secure release with the condition that she never work as a cook again.  For a while she adheres to this requirement but eventually is convinced that the authorities are wrong about her.  She accepts a job cooking food for a maternity ward working under an assumed name.  Thereafter Mary learns a hard truth that will haunt her for the rest of her days.   Recommended
Mary Beth Keane (born July 3, 1977) is an American writer of Irish parentage. She is the author of The Walking People (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) and Fever (Scribner, 2013). In 2011 she was named by Julia Glass to the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35”.

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