September 10, 2013

Powerful words left unspoken

By Julie Berry
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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.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read a Q&A with Julie Berry for All the Truth That's in Me.

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