I found A Madness So Discreet on Goodreads, and then made a request for it through the library network. This young adult novel was written by Mindy McGinnis.
Grace Mae is a pregnant teenager. Perhaps if her story took place a century later, the plot may have been cute and quirky. But at the end of the 19th century, getting pregnant as a well-bred girl from a good home earns Grace a place in an asylum outside of Boston. It is a terrible place, where inmates are routinely abused. Grace is rescued by a doctor, and brought to another asylum in Ohio. This second asylum is an ethical treatment center, where patients are treated with dignity. Dr. Thornhollow thinks that Grace’s intuition is unparalleled, and thinks that she would make an excellent assistant. Thornhollow is a pioneer in the field of phrenology, and serves as a police consultant on murder cases. When Grace and Thornhill realize that there might be a serial killer in their midst, they become obsessed with catching him and bringing him to justice.
I enjoyed reading A Madness So Discreet. I have been purposefully vague about certain aspects of the book to avoid plot spoilers, but this is a complicated book that deals with some very serious subject matter. Grace might come from a prominent Boston family, but she is much better off living in the ethical asylum. She experiences horrors that no one should ever experience, and so she deserves justice. Her concept of justice, and the manner in which she eventually receives justice seems a little too implausible.
I would recommend A Madness So Discreet. The book raises many questions on issues ranging from women’s rights (men can put their wives in asylums without cause) to the motivations of killers. The last part of the book was a little predictable, but it was satisfying to see things end the way that they did. I am looking forward to reading more of Mindy McGinnis’ books.