All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
Judith is an eighteen-year-old young woman living in a small town during what appears to be the mid-1800’s colonial times. She and her best friend Lottie went missing four years ago, and Lottie turned up drowned in the river shortly thereafter. But Judith was gone for two years, and returned with half her tongue cut out. Her mother barely recognizes her presence, forbids her to speak, and works her like an indentured servant at their small farm. No one really knows where Judith has been, and the whole town, including her own mother and brother, seem to assume the worst, as if she’s some sort of fallen woman. She’s become mute, hiding the truth of where she’s been, but the readers slowly begin to learn her truth. The story is told in the first person point of view, with Judith talking to her longtime crush, Lucas, in her mind. He’s now engaged to the town beauty, but somehow Lucas’ dead presumed father played a role in her disappearance.
Writer Berry reveals the details of Judith’s lost two years slowly, unraveling her abduction and captivity bit by bit. This becomes the story’s mystery, with Judith grimly sharing her truths as the story develops. For me, what was most interesting about this title was Judith’s “voice” and personality. It feels like she’s speaking directly to the readers, although she is rarely forthcoming about her own recent horror. The chapters and short and choppy, like thoughts going through her subconscious, revealing her past, her family and her community like a jigsaw puzzle.
“Father loved this soil. Mother was the only thing his loved more, and he loved her fiercely…I feel closest to my father when my arms are caked with the good brown earth. And so I stay to help mother mother, as he would want me to.” I liked this book, even though I wished it had moved a little more quickly. I appreciated Julie Berry’s personalized storytelling style, but got a little frustrated with the slow pace. I recommend this to readers who enjoy mysteries and historical fiction.