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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-07-22
- Reviewer: Staff
This melancholy tale of a village outcast unfolds through the thoughts of Judith, who was kidnapped, held prisoner, and maimed by her captor. Two years later, she has returned home at age 18, but because of her severed tongue, she cannot explain her misfortunes or the crime she witnessed the night she was taken. Most of the townspeople shun her, and even her own mother acts ashamed. In some ways, Judith’s silence protects her, but hiding the truth puts her and others at risk. Encouraged by an old friend, Judith is inspired to try to regain some speech. If she can find the means and courage to communicate what she knows, she and other innocent victims might find a form of salvation. Written as Judith’s internal monologue directed toward Lucas, the boy she loves, Berry’s (The Amaranth Enchantment) novel is suspenseful and haunting. Her poetic narrative (“There’s nothing so bright as the stream by day, nothing so black on a moonless night”) will draw readers in, and the gradual unveiling of secrets will keep them absorbed. Ages 12–up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)
Powerful words left unspoken
The short, fragmented chapters in Julie Berry’s YA debut, All the Truth That’s in Me, fall like puzzle pieces, slowly revealing 16-year-old Judith’s difficult, veiled story. It all begins with an early memory of an ocean journey, when Judith and a group of pioneering families traveled far from their homeland, finally landing and forming a small, insular community.
Judith’s childhood friend, Lucas, has long been the love of her life, and she relates her story as if speaking to him directly. However, in reality, Judith cannot speak to Lucas at all. When she was 14, Judith was abducted and held captive for two years. The details of her abduction—the man who seized her, the place of her imprisonment and the atrocities performed upon her—are revealed gradually. When Judith finally escaped and staggered back home, she was nearly dead and half her tongue had been carved out.
A grim tone persists throughout All the Truth That’s in Me, much like the prolonged hardship Judith and her community face as soldiers attack and secrets poison from within. It becomes increasingly clear that only Judith knows the truth that will bring peace and justice—if only she could speak it.
Berry has created something unique in her story of fear and repression set in an unspecified time and place. Although Judith’s loneliness and longing are almost unbearable, readers sense that she has the strength and intelligence to overcome her handicap. The ever-present violence is reminiscent of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series, but Judith’s uncompromising love for Lucas will sustain the most romantic of readers. All the Truth That’s in Me is a perfect emotional blend of horror and romance.