Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: All the Truth That's In Me

Title: All the Truth That's In Me
Author: Julie Berry
Published: September 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

I enjoyed this so much. And I give it five stars, even though I have one major quibble. 

I went into this book pretty blind. As in, I thought I was reading a contemporary YA. I attribute this totally to the cover model's excellent smokey eye and her chic haircut. Neither screams puritan, although it looks like the design team did attempt some historical accuracy by putting the model in a nice smock. 

Ha ha, but mockery over the cover design aside, this book is like the Witch of Blackbird Pond for the YA genre. Our narrator is Judith, and her situation, from the outset of the book, is shocking enough to completely captivate readers. Three years ago, Judith vanished from her community, only to mysteriously return two years later... with her tongue cut out... We meet Judith, not at her lowest point, but as she recovers from it. Having her tongue cut out has not made her unable to communicate, but she has accepted the symbolism of her mutilation, and fades silently into the background of her community. At the beginning of the novel, a situation arises that enables Judith to take action and to take back control of her life.

This fictional premise bears a lot of resemblance to those horrifying, and true, stories that routinely pop up on the news and stun and captivate the world. Elizabeth Smart. Amanda Berry. That Fritzl nightmare in Austria. The human intrigue that these horror stories inspire is sordid, certainly, but I also think that the intrigue comes from the catharsis these stories evoke. Catharsis - that mysterious occurrence where, in experiencing second-hand feelings of anger, grief, disgust, we exorcise our own negative emotions.

All the Truth That's In Me is a cathartic novel. It's an excellent book for those readers who enjoy getting swept up in emotions while they read, and feeling a degree of emotional fulfillment. And for those who abhor the dubious reward of an unhappy ending after slogging through misery to arrive there -- this book is not that. It's an uplifting read, with enough drama and shocking moments to keep things interesting. The one point where this winning combination of triumph and defeat flags is the ending, which I found too convenient for my tastes. I think, at the ending, the author had the opportunity to drill home a point, but was satisfied instead for a garden-variety conclusion.

All in all, this disappointment was not enough to deplete my rating -- I have no doubt that I'll visit this book again.

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