Book Review: These Shallow Graves
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: Oct. 27, 2015
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 secretly 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 accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, 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. Only 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 the truth is the dirtiest part of all.
Jo – She is a character built before her time. Jo is a high society girl in New York, and while all the other girls her age are focused on getting married and having families, Jo wants to do things. Jo wants to write stories for the newspaper and reveal the things in the world that those in high society pretend don’t exist. The last thing she wants to think about is being paired up with someone she doesn’t love in order to breed like grandmama’s spaniels. Jo is headstrong and sassy, but likeable and proper. I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to her because she is in a place where she doesn’t feel like she entire belongs.
Eddie – Oh, Eddie. He is very rough around the edges, but very charming, and I think that’s why Jo likes him so much. He works for a newspaper called The Standard, and he just wants his next big story so that he can move on to bigger things. He has a little bit of those bad boy qualities that Jo can’t have in her proper, high society life.
This book was a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a lot of frustration (but, in a good way).
I think the thing I appreciated most about this book was while the romance plays a large part in the story, it never overwhelms the mystery of the story, and it definitely doesn’t distract from the bigger point, or theme, of the book. The romance becomes a piece of the bigger theme. Jo is working to determine who she is versus who she wants to be, and the love story and the mystery that make up the story help her to build who she becomes. While it is frustrating while being in the middle of it, it is so unbelievably satisfying by the end.
Jo and Eddie are some great characters. They have a chemistry that is sweet, yet strong. They aren’t a couple of piles melted marshmallow for each other. They are each their own person, and it is so satisfying to read a love story like that because while they are becoming more common in YA they can be difficult to find depending on what sub-genre of YA you are reading.
Overall, I give These Shallow Graves a B+. It took a little bit of time to really get into the story, but I was highly satisfied with the story once I got into it. I think another reason I give it a B+ was the frustration I felt throughout it. The rational part of me says that’s not fair because the characters should be frustrating. They shouldn’t be perfect. But the B+ was my gut reaction as a rating, and when I rate a book my gut is usually what I go with.