Written by: Julie Berry
Publication Information: 2013, Viking
One Line: After two years missing, Judith returns to her village with secrets and the inability to tell them, for she is forbidden to, and cannot, speak.
Brief Summary: Two years after her return, Judith is still shunned from her colonial community, considered a fallen woman. No one even calls her by her name. She was 14 when she disappeared, along with her best friend, but her best friend’s body was soon found floating in the river. Judith remained alive, missing for two years, and when she returned, she had no tongue – but only her mother knows that. She is forbidden to speak and can’t tell anyone what happened to her. She spends her time on her mother’s farm, taking abuse from her mother and townspeople, nurturing a crush on her former sweetheart and neighbor, Lucas, who is now engaged. She pretends to tell this story to him, knowing that their relationship can
Thoughts: Set in what seems to be a very religious colonial town (perhaps in a fictional world), All The Truth That’s In Me is a wonderfully compelling novel of suspense and has the important theme that women – and people – deserve to be heard. The mood is very dark, and the technique of storytelling – of Judith telling the story as if talking to Lucas, her love – is very effective at portraying a young woman isolated and scared, longing for something new. Despite not knowing exactly where and when this is taking place, Berry gives us enough information about the world that it does not matter. The language is poetic and beautiful, creating imagery that stays with the reader, such as the visual of Judith drinking from the stream and this meaning that she is, in a way, touching water that perhaps Lucas’s lips have touched. The horror of being a women scorned in this world is apparent, as even Judith’s mother will not really help her or try to figure out what happened – it is Judith’s mother who tells her not to open her mouth after seeing her tongue. When Judith learns to speak and tell her story, it is incredibly powerful, and the image of her standing on a rock and singing in the early morning is not one that will quickly leave, and is one that sends the message that even the toughest of situations can be conquered. Like Speak before it, although not set in modern times, All The Truth That’s In Me tells the important story of what happens when we shun women who have had violence done to them, when we forbid them from speaking, and when we don’t try to listen.
Author Information: In the author’s own words, from www.julieberry.com (longer version available on site): “After my fourth son was born, I decided that since my family dreams were now well underway, it was time to pursue writing novels. I went back to school and earned an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of the Fine Arts, where I learned from many talented and committed writers for young people. The Amaranth Enchantment was the second novel I wrote in school, and the first one to sell to a publisher. Since then I’ve written Secondhand Charm, All the Truth That’s In Me, and the Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys series with my older sister, Sally Faye Gardner, as the illustrator. All the Truth That’s In Me, my first YA novel, is my most recent release. It’s a 2013 Horn Book Fanfare title, a School Library Journal Best of 2013 book, and a Kirkus Best Teen Read for 2013. It has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection and has been nominated for a Carnegie Medal and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award, and will be published in 12 countries internationally. My next novel, a middle grade titled The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, will be published in September 2014 in the US by Roaring Brook, in Germany by Theinemann Verlag GmbH, in France by Les Grandes Personnes, and in Brazil by Editora Rocco.
Now I’m home full-time, keeping the cats company by day while I write, and chasing the boys around in the afternoons and evenings. If you want to know if I’m working on another book now, the answer is always, “Yes.”