These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Teens & YA, Children’s Fiction
Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.
Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop.
The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
Oh this is definitely good! Set in the 1890s, we meet Jo or Josephine Montfort, who dreamed big instead of just settling to be married with an aristocrat. She yearned of becoming a reporter and she was on her way to doing that, when she learned that her father died. While people thought that Mr. Montfort ended his life, Jo overheard that it was a case of murder and she believed it. Determined to uncover the truth, Jo, with the help of small-time reporter Eddie, did what she had to do to justify her father’s death. And along their merry way came a series of twists and turns, complications and reality Jo never knew existed.
Now what I loved most about this book are the characters and the invisible love triangle. Jo embodied the woman of the 90s, just from different era. 1890’s. During such time, people look down their noses at girls who dreamed big, who were fiesty and defied traditions. Jo wasn’t put off though. She showed the world what she was made of and proved she could make a difference after all the discoveries that came upon her.
Now let’s go to what I mentioned as an invisible love triangle. Jo was actually in love with Eddie but her family was against them because of poor Eddie’s social stature. Eddie was such a sweet soul, very supportive and protective of Jo. His honest-to-goodness personality won me over, seriously. I like a man like him who can be there for me when I feel down and who can be brutally honest when I feel crappy and magnanimous. Eddie Gallagher was such a man. Jo fit right into his world perfectly.
Bram, on the other hand, was the prefered choice because he was an aristocrat. In the end though, Bram proved to be quite a character because he wasn’t the kind of third party we all thought him to be.
The other characters were also very likeable and intense, most especially Fairy Fay, the pickpocket who later became a victim of slavery/prostitution. Her character shattered me, at the same time, excited my mind. Such a fearless young soul. I liked how women’s rights were discussed in the book, to think that this topic had been taboo in the 1890s. For ladies to be treated poorly and looked down upon was something I really didn’t like. It was a big deal to the society but for Jo to defy such extremes, she became a well-loved character in my book.
Now what happened to mystery of Jo’s father you might ask. Well, you’re in for a big surprise. I’d rather not talk about it but all I have to say is, These Shallow Graves would make you dig deeper than you imagined.
Jennifer Donnelly once again created a new masterpiece, this time more suspenseful and gritty than ever. I’ve read some of Jen’s previous books (The Waterfire Saga) and I was left astounded with the enchanting world she had created. With These Shallow Graves, overwhelmingly impressed me. This one was subtle but powerful story, historically speaking. The ending was perfect, I wouldn’t want to change it, even though the other reviewers say otherwise. I felt a sense of satisfaction knowing Jo gave it all out there and became the woman she ought to be. Bravo, Jennifer!