cover image These Shallow Graves

These Shallow Graves

Jennifer Donnelly. Delacorte, $19.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-385-73765-4

Josephine Montfort, one of the wealthy elite in 1890 New York City, is supposed to finish school, marry a suitable gentleman, raise a family, “and that is all.” But smart, self-assured Jo desires more from life—and wants to become a reporter like Nellie Bly. When Jo’s father unexpectedly dies, and she discovers that his death wasn’t an accident, she teams up with an intrepid reporter named Eddie to find out what really happened. They uncover secrets that upend everything she has known, and Jo risks her reputation as they visit checkered parts of the city and she starts to fall for Eddie. While this isn’t a short book, Donnelly’s (Revolution) action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery. Through Jo’s sheltered perspective, readers learn about class disparity right alongside her, and Donnelly is as adept at describing an opulent ball as she is a seedy neighborhood. Though some of the constraints placed on female behavior during that time period have faded, the injustices Donnelly highlights remain all too relevant. Ages 12–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)