These Shallow Graves
by Jennifer Donnelly
Do you ever read a book and when you finish it, you just hug it because you loved it so much and you're not ready to be separated from it just yet? Or is that just me? Either way, this was one of those books for me.Summary: 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.
I loved the first Jennifer Donnelly book I read (Revolution) and I loved the second book of hers that I read (A Gathering Light) -- I went into this book hoping it would live up to the expectations those ones set, and it did. I expected it to be just as good as them, but it wasn't... It was even better.
It was well written, just like the others, with an awesome, independent, fierce female character. Jo was the main reason I loved the book and I loved her pretty much from the start, she's one of those characters I'd love to be friends with if only she were real. The other characters were great too (I adored Fey so much, and Eddie and Oscar), but Jo was my favourite.
And, the book was so wonderfully feminist -- within the first 100 pages of the book, there were so many "omg, yes!" moments whenever Jo was talking about what it was like to be a girl (although, it is a little saddening to realise that those things are still sort of relevant today, although to a lesser extent, even more than a century after the story was set and it makes you realise that we've come a long way as far as equality goes but we're not quite there yet). And, she totally shoots down one of those "you're not like other girls" lines that bugs me so much.
The plot was predictable but incredibly addictive in spite of that and even when I'd guessed where it was going long before it got to the point where the characters knew, I still loved reading the mystery play out. Sometimes it's frustrating waiting for characters to figure out things that feel obvious, but it wasn't in this, I happily enjoyed the journey even when I knew the destination.
And the romance? The romance was so cute -- it was one of those ones that felt really genuine, like they brought out the best versions of themselves when they were together and helped each other be the people they wanted to be and reach/realise their potential. I loved that the romance was a subplot, not the focus and I really loved that it felt like Jo would be okay...like, even if things didn't work out for her romantically, she'd be okay, because her future and happiness didn't hinge on romance and that was really refreshing to read. Basically, I loved Eddie and Jo together, but I also just appreciated the way the romance was written in general.
I'd rate the book 5 stars out of 5. I thought I loved Jennifer Donnelly's books before, but this one is my favourite so far -- this one has left me with that "I need to read every book this author has ever written" kind of feelings.