Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker by Cynthia DeFelice

This was a suspenseful historical fiction book about Tuberculosis or TB in the year 1849. Back then they called it Consumption and usually you died from it and your whole family.

An orphaned boy of about 12 years old starts working for a doctor. He learns all kinds of weird things like taking baths more then one time a year. He also learns the hard way what superstitions can do to the hearts and minds of the people that just want something to give them hope as they helplessly watch their loved ones slowly die of illnesses they can't explain.

People thought that if you dug up the remains of the first person that died in your family from consumption and "put them to rest" by cutting out their heart and burning it and breathing in the smoke, the rest of the family would be cured. Of course it doesn't work. Sometimes someone would get better after having consumption but it wouldn't be because of burning a heart, yet the people thought it was. As they spread word about the cure the details changed and the facts were distorted and pretty soon it wasn't even true to what actually happened. The boy is challenged to find out the beginning and the ending of the story before he passes the "cure" onto others. He does this and discovers how important it is to collect data over a long period of time, like a scientist. You have to prove the theory with facts and time.

This book was well written and had many interesting history points true to the area it was written in. In the end the doctor gets a microscope. It is a whole new idea to start learning about germs. They weren't even called germs just tiny animals.

Great book...WHOLE BOOK.

1 comment:

bug girl said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Hmmm, interesting.