Book: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
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 had a few issues with this book.
First and foremost are the first twenty chapters. It took me that long to really connect with Jo and want to read her story. For a book with one hundred chapters, that’s one fifth. I almost DNF’d These Shallow Graves because of the unbelievable character interactions. There’s one conversation (can’t say which because spoilers) between Jo and her uncle where their reactions were completely unbelievable. It felt out of character for Jo, just from the vibe I was getting from her leading up to that point.
Then the love interest. He’s hot, so hot, which I understand (my mind’s eye has plenty of actors to cast for books) but Jo and Eddie’s relationship felt a little insta-lovey too soon after their “offending each other at first sight” moment. This made it hard to connect to Jo as well.
Then there’s the love triangle. I spotted it from a mile away and upon reflection, I’m not sure I can really call it a love triangle at all (you’ll see). It’s pretty obvious who Jo likes throughout the book and sometimes I wanted to yell at her.
But after Chapter Twenty?
OH MY GOODNESS.
SO GLAD I KEPT READING.
We start to see more of Jo’s perspective on the world around her–we see her background and start to ease into her mindset and her environment’s mindset, which is radically different from the 21st century. I wanted to much to like this book from the get-go. There are lady journalists, murders, and NEW YORK CITY. What’s not to love? I was disappointed that didn’t happen immediately but this is a book one grows to love as one reads. The pace starts picking up, the story straightens itself out, and before you know it, you’re on Chapter Seventy and openly gasping on the school bus.
Jo changes from super naive, slightly annoying upper crust girl to someone I can admire for taking the chances she did in her day and age. Yes, she’s still pretty naive, but I get the feeling she’ll be fine. These Shallow Graves wasn’t what I expected I would be reading, but what I got instead was a good read. I felt satisfied at the ending; not OMG THIS BOOK, but more like soft appreciation and contentment.
Aside from Jo and Eddie, the other character interactions are FABULOUS. I laughed, laughed some more, teared up, then laughed out the tears. This is a book full of death but when the funny moments come, they’d so unexpected you can’t help but laugh. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to rate this, but in the end, (because of the last 80 chapters) These Shallow Graves receives:
Rating: 3.5 stars