When eighteen-year-old Judith returns to her Puritan village two years after she disappeared, even her mother considers her a ruined young woman. After hearing Judith struggle unsuccessfully to tell her tale with the half a tongue that her captor left to her, her mother is so repulsed that she forbids her to try to talk. Judith knows that Lucas— the boy she has loved since they were both children— is lost to her forever, even though she can never tell him why. Her captor was his father.
One day, three ships show up in the harbor, and the village is under attack from the “Homelanders.” They have almost no ammunition, but every able-bodied man and boy prepares to defend the women and children who are sent to hide in the woods for at least temporary safety. Judith watches Lucas and her younger brother, Darrel, gather weapons, and when she sees the crates of gunpowder, she has a sudden memory of such boxes in the cabin where she was kept as a prisoner for so long. It becomes clear to her that Lucas’ father—who has been presumed dead for years— is the person responsible for stealing the town’s arsenal. Since she has no way to communicate her knowledge to others, she realizes with dread that she will have to risk her freedom and return to him to beg him to save the village, at least for the sake of his son.
Thus begins a terrifying and anguishing story of guilt and innocence, love and hatred, and above all, sad misunderstandings. Told in second person, Judith relates this tale directly to Lucas in her mind, hoping desperately that he will see beyond the conclusions that the town aldermen draw about her. Each time events seem to lead to a just conclusion, something else happens to bring the innocent into danger again.
One doesn’t usually think of a Puritan village as the setting of a thriller, but Julie Berry crafts this story brilliantly, slowly peeling back the truth and showing us that we, too, have made assumptions about Judith, her captor, and several other characters that turn out to be false. I came to care so deeply for Judith that at times I held my breath to see what would happen to her.
My friend, Valerie, has been leading the Printz Club at her library for years, and I will occasionally ask her what the club is loving at the moment. It was early in the publishing year that Val told me that her own current favorite was All the Truth That’s in Me and sent me an advance reader copy. I’m so glad she did! I can highly recommend this one to both teens and adults when it is available in September. You won’t be able to put it down.
Disclaimer: I read an advance reader copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.