All The Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
Series: Stand Alone
Published by Viking Juvenile on September 26th, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
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.
Let me just kick this review off with saying I am not a historical fiction kind of girl. Have I tried the genre out sufficiently to utter those words? No. No I haven’t, and I know that’s not fair and it’s not smart and blah blah blah but to be totally honest it is what it is. I’ve attempted to read Strands of Bronze & Gold (6 freaking times) and just can’t get into the frame of mind necessary to handle that time period. I think the problem is that I’m too stubbern. Seriously! I go into a historical fiction novel, they do something perfectly appropriate for that time period (like marry off some teenage girl for a cow) and I immediately rebel against it. So when I saw that the very first book the RDR Virtual Book Club would be reading was historical fiction I immediately put on my “team player” face and prepared myself for the worst.
I know this sounds horribly presumptuous of me but at least I can admit it! The funny part is that while I was preparing myself for the worst I slowly started seeing very random negative reviews and comments about All The Truth That’s In Me and obviously this cemented my “horrible book alert” thoughts. I tried not to read them or let them cloud my judgment but you know how hard that is! It’s like waving a chocolate covered strawberry in my face and expecting me NOT to offer up my 1st born for it! I MUST! So I read the reviews, and that little voice inside of me said “Octavia you hate historical fiction! Of course you’re going to hate this too”. And I’m very happy to say that after DEVOURING All The Truth That’s In Me in one day that that little voice was WRONG!
I don’t know how Berry did it but she has given me the first historical fiction book I’ve ever fallen head over heels in love with! The writing was refreshing and kept me on my toes, the characters were complex and believable! The plot threw curve balls when I thought we were playing water polo! It was just fan-freaking-TASTIC….. for ME. Why did I put that last part you ask? Well because I’ve realized that, somehow, along my book reviewing journey, that some books just aren’t meant for everyone. All The Truth That’s In Me is that kind of book. While the writing was refreshing and sharp to me I can see how many people would be thrown by the first person writing and how the “chapters” were set up. In all honestly the book read more like a diary than a book and I think that’s what made the story more than your run of the mill YA historical fiction story. You were able to see things directly through Judith’s eyes and experience her thoughts and feeling first hand. In my opinion it was also executed in a way that felt more personal and real because of how it was written. I didn’t feel like I had to connect with the characters because I KNEW them already. I knew who Darryl was. What Lucas meant to me (Judith) and how it felt to have those snobby judgmental town folk look at me.
And when Judith was angry I was angry. At the villagers, at Lucas and especially at her bitch (that was totally necessary) of a mother. I can’t imagine what was going through her mom’s mind but as a mother myself if my daughter turned up after being presumed dead for 2 YEARS I wouldn’t care what shape she was in. She’s my kid and she is alive and she is with ME. It really annoyed me that in this backwards town they were so busy focusing on how Judith was “permanently damaged” they couldn’t see that this girl was smart, resourceful and completely gorgeous from the outside in. I know for the time period it’s to be expected but it threw me right into mama bear mode and all I wanted was for Judith to burn the town to the ground and ride off into the sunset with a smile on her face.
Too dark? Sorry….not really.
It’s just that this book made me FEEL so many things! I felt anger for the villagers, but joy for Judith’s strength and determinations. I felt disdain for her mother’s reaction and pride in the way a little brother will (and should) fight for his big sisters honor. I just..AGH READ THE DARN BOOK PEOPLE! It was written beautifully, the story was different and engaging, and the characters were something I genuinely want to see more of in YA. I can honestly say that Berry has given me a new hope for historical fiction and it is pretty much guaranteed that I will read anything that woman writes.