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

Publication Date: September 26, 2013
Publisher: Viking Children's Books
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Pages: 274 (ARC)
Source: Trade
Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

This has been one of the hardest books to rate. The overall twisted tale and unique way of writing easily warrants five stars, but I found several issues throughout the story that hindered me from loving this book to pieces. While I know many people will love it more than life itself, the analytical part of my brain had a few alarm bells ringing throughout the story. 

To begin, this book is written in a second person perspective. Instead of us being spoken to, Judith spends the entire book speaking to Lucas. It's almost as if this is a diary written to him. But, more on him later. It has been so long since I've read a book like this this writing style took a bit of time to adjust to. And, to make the writing style even more intriguing and mind-boggling, the chapters are very short. Some are as small as three lines, others are as long as five pages. The size constantly varies and the timing of these little chapters sporadically switches from the present to Judith's mysterious past. While slightly confusing in the beginning, it was very easy to follow once I adjusted to it and the transitioning between past and present kept me on my toes.

I was thrown for yet another loop by the cover. It's haunting and easily draws you in, no? Who is this scared girl and why is her mouth missing? She clearly cannot speak, but what's her story? It makes you want to pick it up. It looks like an awesome contemporary, but this book is totally not a contemporary. While the cover is admittedly gorgeous, neither the synopsis or cover hints at the fact that this is a historical fiction book. And though I know it's historical because of the descriptions of daily life and clothing, I have no idea where this takes place. I cannot tell you a general location besides near the woods. I can't tell you a general time frame besides the time of women wearing bonnets and punishment by sticking people in stocks. But this was during a time where women were allowed to be educated until they became a housewife. This was made all the more confusing because it was never outright said this was a historical, I had to infer it by drawing out little details throughout the book. And, to this moment, I'm still completely confounded as to when and where this book took place. I didn't understand the personal history that brought on a war near the beginning of the book, and this just frustrated me. The lack of upfront information in regards to this aspect of the book continues to frustrate me as I analyze this book for my review.

With that in mind, I loved Judith. She's returned from a kidnapping, but she's been mutilated. Half of her tongue has been cut out, forcing her to be mute. Her small town thinks she is cursed, so she is forced to be quiet and ignored by all. She will never marry, nor learn. She will never have a chance to be respected and her old life will forever be lost. After two years of this type of treatment, even from her own mother, she begins to agree with her town's general thoughts on her: she must be dumb. But, then, the oddest of friendships comes to light and she learns that she's been silenced because she allowed herself to be. And, if she sets her mind to it, she can break her silence. This story is all about her finding her voice, and it's amazing. It's not an easy journey, but it's one that deserves to be told. Because of this, it's very easy to feel for our hero and her plight. I also want to give props to the individual who helped her discover the fact that she can not only have friends, but be a functioning member of society. This person was the last person I expected to do this and it displays how three-dimensional these characters are.

This book also has a solid murder mystery arc that comes to a shocking conclusion at the very end of the novel. This aspect of the book kept me riveted because I had no clue who could have killed Lottie, the girl who disappeared the same summer as Judith did, but never returned. Slowly unraveling all of these frightening details was amazing, and the actual mystery was done well. In the end, there were small details that hinted at the identity of the killer, but nothing obvious. It would take some serious inferring to figure it out before our main character did, but Berry gave us the smallest of chances to do so. I loved this, and while my guess was completely far off, the shock of the killer's identity and the perfect way it fit into the story was great. I love it when a murder mystery is done well...meaning that the murderer truly has motives though their identity is not easy to infer and all aspects of the mystery were neatly tied up.

The romance in this one was sweet and slow going, but not overpowering of the general murder mystery. Judith has some stalking moments in the beginning, but she overcomes these odd tendencies as she finds her voice. Clearly, the love interest is Lucas. There's no secret to his identity in this one. His suffering and his hard journey was interesting as well because I couldn't glean many of his feelings easily. However, I have to say that I felt slightly disconnected from him. Judith's love of his is so powering that it nearly borders on obsession. I mean, the entire book is written as her talking to him. So, while it's great to love when something goes right for them and hate when something goes wrong because of our attachment to Judtih, it's  not really driven by feelings for Lucas. We don't know much about him besides what Judith thinks of him. I'd love to get to know him more, but the styling of the story hindered that and made it hard for me to forge a connection with him.

In the end, I think this is the perfect tale if you're looking for something unique, twisted, and powerful. While the writing style can turn people off, it's easy to adjust to and love if you set your mind to it. Judith is a characters whose story is worth reading, and it's always amazing to find a main character who truly deserves to be rooted for. If you have the time, I'd give this one a chance.


4 stars

~*~Links~*~

3 comments:

  1. I had no idea that this one was a historical. It kinda sounds like it has the feel of The Village? That movie was crazy. So, your review made me wanna read this one really badly!

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  2. This is historical? That's crazy! I've really been wanting to read this one because it sound so different and unique, but time/place issues kind of bug me a little. That happened in The Pledge and it ruined a lot of that book for me because I couldn't picture anything. But I love that it's told in second person. It's still sounds as different as I thought it would be, so I may have to check it out. Great review, Lili!

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  3. So...this is historical? How did this not get mentioned in blurbs or anything. Not that I mind historical but still.

    I'm pretty excited to read this one, although I know the second person persepctive will be odd since so few books seem to be written like that. I do love twisted tales but I suspect I'm going to be off-put by the romance.

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