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These Shallow Graves
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These Shallow Graves
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From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people...
From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people...
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  • From Jennifer Donnelly, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Northern Light and Revolution, comes a mystery about dark secrets, dirty truths, and the lengths to which people will go for love and revenge. For fans of Elizabeth George and Libba Bray, These Shallow Graves is the story of how much a young woman is willing to risk and lose in order to find the truth.
        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 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 shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.
        The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, 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. But 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 this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

    Praise for These Shallow Graves:

    "These Shallow Graves delivered all that I adore: lovely prose, historical intrigue, unique characters and setting. I devoured this book!"-Ruta Sepetys, New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy

    "An intelligent, personable heroine-Jo Montfort's hopes for an enlightened future uncover a dark past, resulting in a splendidly hair-raising tour of the brightest and darkest corners of Victorian New York."-Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity and Black Dove, White Raven

    "A fast-paced Gilded Age crime thriller that plunges its intrepid investigative-journalist heroine into the sordid underworld of nineteenth-century New York City and into her own family's dark secrets."-Julie Berry, award-winning author of All the Truth That's In Me

    "Jo Montfort is a gutsy modern heroine in a beguiling tale of old New York. Money, murder, betrayal, and family secrets....I loved spending time in this world!"-Elizabeth Ross, author of William C. Morris Award finalist Belle Epoque

    [STAR] "Fast-paced and thrilling...a smart, insightful, timely depiction of a young woman poised on the brink of a new world after the shattering of another."-Booklist, Starred

    [STAR] "Action-packed chapters propel this compelling mystery...[and] the injustices Donnelly highlights remain all too relevant."-Publishers Weekly, Starred

    [STAR] "A riveting historical mystery-thriller...[that] succeeds as a wonderfully paced thriller, a heart-pounding romance and an unflinching look at the hard choices one young woman must make when society disparages her dreams."-Shelf Awareness, Starred

    "A beautifully written mystery."-School Library...


  • From the book Chapter One

    Miss Sparkwell’s School for Young Ladies

    Farmington, Connecticut

    September 17, 1890

    “Trudy, be a dear and read these stories for me,” said Jo Montfort, laying out articles for her school’s newspaper on a tea table. “I can’t abide errors.”

    Gertrude Van Eyck, all blond curls and dimples, stopped dead in the middle of the common room. “How did you know it was me? You didn’t even look up!”

    “Duke told me,” Jo replied. Duke’s Cameos were Trudy’s favorite brand of cigarette.

    Trudy sniffed her sleeve. “Do I smell?”

    “You positively reek. What does Gilbert Grosvenor think of you smoking cigarettes?”

    “Gilbert Grosvenor doesn’t know. Not about the ciggies, or the bottle of gin under my bed, or that utterly swell boy who delivers apples,” Trudy said, winking.

    “Slang does not become a Farmington girl, Gertrude,” sniffed Libba Newland, seated nearby with her friend, May Delano.

    “Neither does that fringe, Lib,” said Trudy, eyeing Libba’s badly curled bangs.

    “Well, I never!” Libba huffed.

    “And I’m sure you never will,” Trudy said archly.

    “Stop being awful and read these, Tru,” Jo scolded. “My deadline’s tomorrow.”

    Trudy sat down at the table and helped herself to a jam tart from Jo’s plate. It was three o’clock—teatime at Miss Sparkwell’s—and the common room was crowded with students on break. Everyone was chatting and eating except Jo, who was busy finalizing the layout for the second edition of the Jonquil.

    “What do we have this week?” Trudy asked. “The usual tripe?”

    Jo sighed. “I’m afraid so,” she said. “There’s a piece on the proper way to brew tea, a poem about kittens, Miss Sparkwell’s impressions of the Louvre, and advice on how to fade freckles.”

    “Ye gads. Anything else?”

    Jo hesitated, working up her nerve. “As a matter of fact, yes. A story on the abuse of girl laborers at Fenton’s Textile Mill,” she said, handing one of the articles to her friend.

    “Ha! So funny, my darling!” Trudy said, smiling. Her smile faded as she read the first lines. “Oh dear God. You’re serious.”

    Trudy kept reading, riveted, and Jo watched her, thrilled. Jo was a senior at Miss Sparkwell’s and had written for the Jonquil during her three previous years at the school, but this was the first important story she’d written. She’d worked hard to get it. She’d taken risks. Just like a real reporter.

    “What do you think?” she asked eagerly when Trudy finished reading.

    “I think you’ve lost your mind,” Trudy replied.

    “But do you think it’s good?” Jo pressed.


    Jo, who’d been perched on the edge of her seat, shot forward and hugged Trudy, a huge grin on her face.

    “But that’s entirely beside the point,” Trudy said sternly as Jo sat down again. “If you hand in the layout to Sparky with that story in it, you’re done for. Detention for a week and a letter home.”

    “It’s not that bad. Nellie Bly’s pieces are far more provocative,” said Jo.

    “You’re comparing yourself to Nellie Bly?” Trudy asked, incredulous. “Need I remind you that she’s a scandalous lady reporter who meddles in...

About the Author-

  • Jennifer Donnelly is the author of three adult novels, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose, as well as the young adult novels These Shallow Graves, Revolution, Stepsister, Poisoned and A Northern Light, winner of Britain's prestigious Carnegie Medal, the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award. She lives and writes full-time in upstate New York. You can visit her at jenniferdonnelly.com or find @JenWritesBooks on Twitter.


  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 17, 2015
    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.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2015
    In 19th-century Manhattan, socialite Jo Monfort's wealthy father meets an untimely death. Seventeen-year-old Jo, like her literary namesake in Little Women, aspires to be a writer, but her itch to learn about the world outside her social class threatens her family's expectation that she'll marry Bram, the most eligible bachelor in New York. When Jo's father is found dead of a gunshot wound in his study, it's assumed to be an accident, but Jo wonders how her safety-conscious father could possibly have been cleaning a loaded gun. She overhears a rakish young reporter declare that her father's partners in a shipbuilding firm paid hush money to keep the fact that it was murder out of the press. Jo won't rest until she gets to the bottom of the story, despite the risk to her reputation. Melodrama and intrigue drive this fast-paced thriller with a Wharton-esque setting and a naive young protagonist willing to be exposed to the shadier side of life-prostitutes, uncouth men, and abject poverty-on her way to solving a mystery and asserting her right to claim her future for herself. The author keeps the clues coming at a rate that allows readers to be one small step ahead of Jo as the story races to its surprising conclusion. Readers who love costume dramas will relish this one. (Historical mystery. 13-17)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-It's September 1890, and Josephine "Jo" Montfort has been called home from Miss Sparkwell's School for Young Ladies upon her father's death. The police said it was an accident, but Jo knows her father would never have been so careless as to clean a loaded gun. When rumors of suicide reach her ears, she feels compelled to discover the truth of what happened that night in her father's study. Risking her reputation, the teen searches for answers wherever the clues take her, even to the dangerous slums and docks of New York City. With a handsome and nosy newsman as her reluctant guide, Jo begins to learn more about her family's murky history. Each secret she uncovers leads to another, stirring up her past and threatening her future. Donnelly's latest is a glimpse into the changing societal structure of turn-of-the-century New York City, personified by Jo Montfort. She is a girl trapped by her family's expectations and yearning for a different life, sentiments that will resound with today's teens. She and her co-amateur detective and forbidden romantic interest, Eddie Gallagher, are likable, well-drawn, and interesting. While there may not be many surprises for discerning readers, interest is maintained as they unravel the puzzle through Jo's naive eyes. The plot moves forward at steady pace and short chapters break the novel up into easily devourable pieces. VERDICT A beautifully written mystery that will appeal to a variety of readers.-Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2015
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* HED: Most Girls Are a Lot like Me DEK: Jennifer Donnelly's historical novel looks at a teen who wants to follow the news without becoming the news. Reporter Eddie says to newspaper heiress Jo Montfort, You're a very unusual girl, and in some ways it's true: rich and accomplished young women in 1890s Manhattan aren't supposed to have aspirations beyond a good marriage. But Jo, clever and curious, dreams of being a reporter like Nelly Bly. When her father is found dead in their Gramercy homeauthorities say he shot himself accidentally while cleaning his gun, but Jo knows he was too intelligent about firearms to clean it loadedher life takes a dramatic turn as she struggles to determine the true cause of his death, be it murder or suicide. As her dangerous, potentially reputation-ruining exploration continues, she repeatedly encounters Eddie Gallagher, a smart and ambitious reporter who alternates between aiding Jo and trying to send her home. But she perseveres and soon finds herself drawn into the seedy underbelly of New York as she seeks out information in whorehouses, dens of thieves, and insane asylumsall places where a proper young lady might not belong, but a true reporter can't avoid.Donnelly, whose A Northern Light (2003) was a Printz Honor Book, has crafted a remarkable portrait of a girl struggling with the constraints of an overbearing society and looking for answers in the midst of deep grief. The writing is lovely and nuanced and the plot fast-paced and thrilling, though savvy readers will probably guess at least some of the twists. What really sets this apart is the characterizations. Jo is no stock heroine: she is brave and smart and determined, yes, but also rash and impulsive and frequently so blinded by familial loyalty that she doesn't see things other charactersand the readermight. Her slowly unfolding romance with Eddie doesn't detract from her ambition or her goal, and the judgmental rigidity of her society and the mystery surrounding her father's death are as much a roadblock to her longed-for journalism career as they are to this unsanctioned relationship.And then there is Fay. The smart-talking street thief with a hard-luck life and a bitter future could have been introduced as many things: a foil for the privileged Jo, her romantic rival for Eddie, or just a cautionary reminder of the cost of a fall from grace. Instead, Fay and Jo slowly form a close bond, quickly becoming close confidants despite their different upbringings and outlooks. Eddie says that Jo is not like other girls, but, true to form, Jo disagrees. Most girls are a lot like me, she says. Wanting answers to their questions. This is the ultimate truth to which Donnelly continues to circle back, that there is no solid line dividing different kinds of girls. Fictional or otherwise, people can't be split into good or bad, rich or poor, unusual or plain. It's that realization that elevates this from just a well-crafted historical thriller into a smart, insightful, timely depiction of a young woman poised on the brink of a new world after the shattering of another, armed with the qualities and the companions to see her through.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

  • Shelf Awareness, Starred [STAR] ""These Shallow Graves succeeds as a wonderfully paced thriller, a heart-pounding romance and an unflinching look at the hard choices one young woman must make when society disparages her dreams."

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    Random House Children's Books
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