[Review] Mute teenager's silent trauma proves moving yet uplifting tale

[Review] Mute teenager's silent trauma proves moving yet uplifting tale

All the Truth That's in Me
By Julie Berry
Published by Templar
ISBN 978-1848779143

Julie Berry's riveting story focuses on Judith Finch, a teenage girl left battling to reclaim her life after being abducted.

It is set in what appears to be the early 18th century, in a colonial village in North America, as settlers struggle to start a new life.

Berry is never specific about the time and place of her story because she wants nothing to get in the way of Judith's harrowing tale.

All the Truth That's in Me is a moving, but sombre story for older teenagers: parts of this historical thriller might prove upsetting for younger readers.

Four years before, Judith and her friend Lottie went missing from the village. Later Lottie's body was found floating in a stream, but no trace of Judith was found.

Yet after two years, she walks back into the village - without any explanation: she is unable to talk about what happened to her during that time - because her tongue has been cut out.

The traumatised teenager is forced to live as an outcast - shunned by the suspicious, highly religious villagers, and treated with scorn by her mother. "What was done to me was shocking," Judith says. "I am outside the boundaries forever, no longer decent."

To try to survive, Judith must find a way of telling her story. But is there anyone in the village who will believe her when she explains what happened?

The only respite from her loneliness is the crush she develops on Lucas, a neighbour and former childhood sweetheart.

Then one day, a deadly threat puts the lives of everyone at risk.

Told from Judith's silent and troubled perspective, Berry's haunting and suspenseful novel slowly reveals what happened through short paragraphs and chapters. "I don't believe in miracles, but if the need is great, a girl might make her own miracle," Judith says.

Berry explains the truth by cleverly drawing the reader deeper into Judith's story and her thoughts.

All the Truth That's In Me is certainly not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one. Berry's fine mystery, beautifully elegant use of language and unique central character make this unusual young-adult novel a page-turner with real depth and grit.

Every so often, a book for mature and sensitive teenage readers comes along that doesn't fit into the usual publisher's pigeonhole. Yet this powerful tale, which disturbs, uplifts and wrenches the heart, is not to be missed.

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com


This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Mute teenager's silent trauma proves moving yet uplifting tale
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