Release Date: October 27, 2015
Format: Paperback ARC (received in exchange for an honest review)
Pages: 488 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA Mystery, YA Historical Fiction,
Review Date: May 9, 2016
Rating: 3 bookmarks
Synopsis: 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.
The strongest theme through out the book was women's empowerment. Jo is a strong character and she never ceases to take the moment to remind the reader of the oppression that girls and women went through in 1890's. Once in a while, I found myself thinking, "Okay, we get it." ...but it is what it is.
Overall, I like Jo. She's young (16), with big aspirations of being in an investigative reporter. When her father dies under unusual circumstances, she takes it on to find out what exactly happened. Not believing that her father would kill himself, she starts a journey that reveals all sorts of secrets.
I like how I was able to see how the title tied into the plot. When a grave is shallow, you can dig things up. Literally and figuratively. Sometimes it's a body and the secrets of the past along with it. The opening of the book started with Jo and a few others digging up a grave. For most of the book I was wondering when we would return to the prologue. It took a long time to get back around to that opening scene, which grabbed my attention immediately, and we got the whole story in between, This story is not what I would call a fast paced read, but the plot was forward moving with pacing that was acceptable, so I got through it without an issue. I wouldn't have minded a more lean plot, thus shorting the story a tad.
As this is a period piece, world building is important. While I didn't fell totally transported to that time, I got the gist. I wanted a little more description of surroundings and maybe a tad bit here and there of what it would be like to live in that time, outside of the horror of being born a woman...or non-white. Instead I got the overall vibe of doom and gloom, there was nothing light to offset the overall serious tone to the book.
I found these short video of Jennifer Donnelly explaining how the story for These Shallow Graves developed, I half wonder what this book could be if it were told from the point of view from the man in the grave. It certainly would have been a more intense and adult feeling book. Which I suspect I would have enjoyed.
With all of that said, in the end, the finale of the book was believable and extremely satisfying. I love a realistic ending and that's exactly what we got. These Shallow Graves allowed for tons of conversation about women and society during that time. The group as a whole liked the book and the ratings ranged from 3-4 out of 5. If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend you at least check this one out. What about you? Have you read These Shallow Graves? If so, please share with me your thoughts on this read.