Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry

All the Truth That's in Me, a Whitney Award finalist in YA General Fiction, is a hauntingly poetic story, tinged with elements of horror, romance, and history.   It's a riveting tale of continued devotion and friendship, and lost and eventually rediscovered identity.

Four years ago, two girls disappeared from the town of Roswell Station, deliberately ambiguously placed several hundred years in a colonial, puritanical past.  One girl was found dead, stripped of her clothes, in a stream.  The other, Judith, came stumbling home two years later with half of her tongue cut out.  Her mother, horrified at this mutilation and the curse from above it implies, forbade her to speak.  Isolated from the rest of the townspeople, ignored and used by her mother for chores, Judith watches Lucas from afar.  Before her disappearance, they were friends with a possible romance blooming between them.  Now, she can only speak to him in her mind, expressing her feelings in silence.  When the town is threatened with invasion by old enemies, Judith demonstrates her courage by seeking out the only person who can save the town: the person she fears most.

All the Truth That's in Me is Judith's intimate and immediate first person narrative, directed solely at "you": Lucas.  In short sections only a few paragraphs long, Judith tells the story of her life, with passages about the past mixed in with those about the present.  Though slightly disorienting at first, this fragmented approach gives the narrative an almost ethereal, impressionistic quality with brief vignettes and flashes of emotion weaving together to form a strong emotional framework for the book.

For all the suspense and poetry in the prose, relationships really are key in this novel.  The relationship between Judith and Lucas is central, of course, but the relationships between Judith and her mother, and Judith and her younger brother are fascinating, too, especially in how they change over the course of the story.  Judith's friendship with another girl in town, Maria, develops at Maria's insistence and helps instigate Judith's growth and optimism that the future can be different for her than the past has been.

Beautifully written, powerfully and evocatively told, this is one of my favorites of the Whitney Award finalists.

All the Truth That's in Me
by Julie Berry
ISBN: 9780670786152
Buy it from Amazon here: (hardcoverpaperbackebookaudiobook)
Find it at a local independent bookseller.
Look it up on Goodreads.
Check it out at your local library (find the nearest one here)

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