title: All the Truth That's In Me
author: Julie Berry
buy it: Amazon Goodreads B&N
rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].
recommended for: Fans of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, and historical fiction with a twist.
My Ratings Explained
the basicsI'd kind of forgotten what this book was about by the time it came to me. It certainly wasn't what I expected, based on the cover. But it was phenomenal. It's quasi-historical, in the way that you can tell it's set in a time past, but it's removed from our reality. It's a made-up town with a shadowy history, the threat of mysterious "homelanders", and no connection to a history we would recognize. That makes it palatable, I think, to people who don't like hardcore historical fiction, and it also gave it a fantasy quality that I adored.
The story itself is a clever mystery ala Speak. You know something terrible has happened to Judith, but it takes a while before the pieces come together. Having an MC with their tongue cut out is a fascinating way to change how they interact with others and to keep the mystery from coming out all at once. What you get is part mystery, part romance, with some pretty razor-sharp criticism of how "damaged" women are treated and what people will believe when there's no one to set the story straight. I read it all in a night because I could not put it down. It's both beautiful and suspenseful. Even if you're not usually a historical fan, try it!
plot . 5/5With a mute narrator and a dark secret, you start out not knowing very much. Just that something is terribly wrong in this town. That's the fun part. Berry takes you along, throwing you hints and slowly revealing the horrors that happened before the story's beginning. A lot of the story is in Judith's head, but not in a boring way. I loved her internal monologue. It's such a sharp contrast to her outward silence. And there's plenty going on. Military attacks, mysteriously dead girls, broken betrothals, lascivious men, preachers with a vengeance...it's both mystery in Small Town and broken girl, finding her voice and owning what happened to her. It's fast-paced too, and I had a page-turning problem.
concept . 5/5It's clever to set a story like this in a historical setting. It's a little like The Scarlet Letter for teens, only much more accessible and with a very different focus. Judith struggles not only with losing her voice, but with the shame and horror of what happened to her. Her mother has come to hate her and won't let her speak. Her love is engaged to another woman. Her city is being attacked from without, and there's intrigue going on within. This book shows you the devastation that comes without having a voice (metaphoric and literal) in the guise of a murder-mystery adventure.
characters . 5/5I really liked them, even when I hated them. Judith's mother was a horrible little shrew, but she played her part well. Her anger and cruelty was believable. Judith herself is a strong character. She's willing to take what's thrown at her to protect those she loves from shame, even if it means keeping silent and taking the stares and accusations. But in the end, she finds the strength to save herself. She's definitely no damsel. Lucas is a great romantic lead, and I really adored Maria, the beautiful charmer who has more to her than just looks. Every character, even those with small roles, felt real and purposeful.
style . 5/5The style was beautiful. There's a flavor of old-timey writing but Berry doesn't go overboard, so it's not clunky or hard to read. Like I said, I got through it in a night, I was so compelled. The writing has atmosphere, and Judith's narration feels very unique. You feel like you really are in a real person's head.
mechanics . 5/5Nothing to complain about. Everything felt purposeful. No unnecessary extras here.
take home messageA historical take on crimes against women, and the victim who finds her voice and becomes a survivor.
Note: I received this copy through Around the World ARC Tours. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.