Posted in Young Adult Lit

These Shallow Graves, by Jennifer Donnelly

24187925These Shallow Graves
Jennifer Donnelly
2015 by Random House Delacorte
ISBN – 9780385737654
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – High School
3.5 Stars

Jo Monfort Lives a life of luxury. Her family has plenty of money, she will marry one of the best young men in New York City, and she will never want for anything. Except, this isn’t the life she wants. She dreams of being a writer, one who uncovers inequalities and injustices in the world of the lower classes of New York. This is not something she can hope to achieve, as this is not what women of her standing do. When she finds out that her father had an accident while cleaning her gun, her whole world changes in an instant. Not only has she lost her father, but she has also discovered that something is fishy about the situation. The whole thing doesn’t add up. Just like a journalist, she decides to look a little deeper into the accident. But can she handle all of the information she finds? Will she be able to accept that once she has gone so far, she will not be able to turn back?

I enjoyed reading this book, it had a little bit of everything, mystery, romance, feminism, suspense, violence, and more. I liked that Jo bucked the system, that she refused to fit into the mold of every other young woman in her social circle. She fought for what she believed in despite the fact that her entire world was at risk. I can image that that would have been a whole lot harder than it seems. In my mind, it was just old fashioned traditions set in place by society, but to Jo, and many other women in this time, it must have been quite the struggle. I did at times find the writing and the examples used as quite cliche, but then again those are the things that people remember. I liked Jo’s character, I thought she was brave, and strong, despite the fact that she made mistakes and had weaknesses. It made her realistic. Reading this book also made me appreciative that I did not live in these times. My biggest complaint is that Donnelly made everything seem so black and white. No one had any middle ground emotions, or actions, there was no middle class, everything was so dire, or so luxurious. I don’t believe that the world works this way, although it would be much more interesting if it did, as demonstrated here.


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