Why You Should Read 'These Shallow Graves' By Jennifer Donnelly

Why You Should Read 'These Shallow Graves' By Jennifer Donnelly

If you're in the mood for a murder mystery, look no further!

As listed on one of my previous book lists, I finally got around to starting "These Shallow Graves" by Jennifer Donnelly. The premise of this book is that the main character, Jo Montfort, receives the dreadful news that her father is dead. Set in Victorian New York, Jo comes from an upper-class life of ease; an easy life full of rules and etiquette that she struggles to follow. She must behave like a proper lady for her time, but would much rather be writing for a newspaper as a journalist about social issues. She can't quite seem to find a place among her friends and family with her "odd" behavior.

So, when the news comes that her father accidentally shot himself while cleaning his gun, Jo knows something is wrong. She begins to suspect that the trigger was pulled on purpose and by someone else. Jo teams up with a reporter named Eddie to discover the truth; as she begins to fall for him, she must figure out how to balance her proper life and her passion.

The premise of this book is interesting. While the plot itself isn't the most original, it still has a unique setting and is entertaining to read. As a murder mystery, it succeeds it keeping me guessing throughout the book. There were times I felt some of the reveals were a little cliché or the plot was moving too slow or fast, but overall, I couldn’t guess who the killer was before the end of the book. Not being able to guess the mystery is one of the strongest points a murder mystery book can have, after all!

There were a few points that seem to be teaching the reader about the injustice women faced back in this time, but in a way, that is obvious. Such as, the female characters will tell Jo that she can't do something because she is a woman, and Jo thinks about how she wishes she had the same freedoms as a man. While it's clear that Jo is a forward-thinking woman, I felt as if her thoughts and those around her were a little too on-the-nose, and didn't trust the reader to interpret the oppressed state of women without explicitly having the characters say it.

Overall, I enjoyed reading "These Shallow Graves". I recommend it to anyone who wants to get into the murder mystery, Victorian New York mood. It took me a little bit to get into the book, but once I got halfway in, I was entranced and couldn't put it down.

Cover Image Credit: Random House

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Why I Listen to Depressing Music Even Though I'm Depressed

Music that's powerful, music that speaks to me, music that means something.

It took me a long time to find my preferred genre of music. In middle school, I remember listening to pop songs that I often heard on the radio. I could (and still can) rap the entirety of Super Bass by Nicki Minaj and I dreamt about my crush professing his love to me by serenading me with Stereo Hearts by Gym Class Heroes. 

By my freshman year of high school, those songs were no longer cool, so I went along with the crowd and started listening to the next most popular type of music: trap music. In my experience, these artists talked solely about fucking bitches and smoking ganja, even though, at that point in my life, I had no intent of having intercourse or "doing" the marijuana (boy was I naive). Though I listened to these genres to appease everyone else, I never felt completed like so many people claimed to feel when they listened to music. I did not have a passion for any bands or artists and I did not feel any sort of deep connection while I was listening.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I decided to explore certain genres that I hadn’t yet explored. The first bands I really grew to love were the Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, and The Kooks. Their music not only sounded great, but the lyrics actually meant something. They spoke about relationships, internal struggles, mental issues, and societal problems. Their lyrics resonated with me, and, surprisingly, the most depressing of their material resonated the most.

I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, though I was not diagnosed until a little over a year ago. I’ve been on meds and have learned coping techniques, but the most counterintuitive of those techniques is listening to these depressing songs.

One of the hardest struggles I have with depression is not being able to tell people how I am feeling, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t have the words. I find that listening to others put into words the exact emotions that I have not been able to convey myself is quite reassuring.  These songs help me better understand my own emotions and give me an idea of how to turn those emotions into spoken language. 

When Alex Turner says “you can shriek until you’re hollow or whisper it the other way” or when AJJ says "everything is real, but it's also just as fake” I feel as if someone has entered my thoughts and put into lyrics the fears and feelings I struggle with on a daily basis. These songs make me feel as if there is a whole community of people out there who experience the same, seemingly-lonely experiences that I do. I feel more connected to the world when I listen to this type of music. I feel understood.

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Two Inspiring Movies Everyone Should See

Movies that take you on an emotional roller coaster.

I have always loved watching movies, especially ones with inspiring and emotional storylines. I get very invested and intrigued (maybe a little too much), but I love having that whirlwind of emotions throughout the entire movie.

Recently, I got the opportunity to see two amazing movies that I think are very important and had a huge effect on me. The films were “Lady Bird” and “Call Me by Your Name”. Both of these films came out in 2017 so they are fairly new. They are making a huge impact and receiving a lot of deserved recognition.

“Lady Bird” has such a special storyline. It follows the relationship between a mother and daughter in such a realistic way. As many girls know, a relationship with a mother is not always an easy one and the film really captures that frustration.

It follows the life of a young girl that is about to leave to go to college. So many things change for girls during this time and there are so many emotional challenges and obstacles. I absolutely love how this film displays this situation and many relationships in a very graphic and honest way. I think it is so important for young girls to watch this film and channel all those feelings. It is incredibly relatable and it reminds girls to be courageous.

“Call Me by Your Name” is seriously one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It is a love story, which we have seen is countless movies, but this film displays a relationship in such a unique and beautiful way.

The best thing about this movie is that it is awkward at some points and maybe even a little uncomfortable. I admire this because love and relationships aren’t always magical and perfect. It expresses a type of love that is so unapologetic and pure. I could watch it over and over and still have the same inspiring feeling at the end. If you are a fan of emotional love stories or small independent films watch this movie. You will not regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Connor Limbocker

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