Mindy McGinnis’ “A Madness So Discreet” is about a young pregnant woman named Grace who is put in an asylum by her family in the 1800s. (I can’t say any more about that or I’ll give away important plot details.) A doctor studying criminology is amazed by Grace’s intelligence and attention to detail. They hatch a plan to get Grace out of the horrible asylum and into a different one that is much more humane and progressive than many asylums at that time. Grace is allowed to work as the doctor’s assistant and she accompanies him to crime scenes. Eventually the details of how she became pregnant and wound up at the horrible asylum come out of the woodwork.
My library classified this book as teen fiction, which kind of irritated me. There’s this stereotype that teen fiction is code for “shallow and lame.” I assure you the book is neither of those things! (Side note: I wouldn’t recommend the book for younger teens. If this was a movie, it would definitely be rated R.)
I love this book so much. It’s an emotionally difficult read, but it’s super well-written, and I felt like it handled the subject of asylums respectfully, unlike the “lunatic asylums as entertainment” mindset that is so prevalent in our culture.