All the Truth That's In Me
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a social outcast in early America? Judith would love to tell you all about it. The only problem is, she can’t --- her tongue has been cut off by a kidnapper, leaving her with a voice her mother has forbidden her to use. She accepts her fate, albeit unhappily, convinced that she could not expect sympathy from those around her. That doesn’t mean, however, that she has given up memories of her past life and of the girl she used to be. That girl is still inside of her, but it takes a serious threat to her settlement’s wellbeing for Judith to realize that she has a responsibility to tell her fellow villagers just what she has been hiding.
"Julie Berry’s story explores how a young woman deals with the expectations of a judgmental world that leaves very little room for nonconformity."
Judith had been a smart and happy child nestled in the bosom of her tightly-knit family and close to a number of other village children. When her best friend disappears, she goes after her, thinking she can find her. Instead, she is abducted by a man she thought dead --- the father of her childhood sweetheart, Lucas. He removes her tongue before he lets her return to the village, destroying her chances of returning to normalcy and stealing her opportunity to become Lucas’ wife. Though she tries to reestablish herself within her community, villagers once friendly to her now consider her cursed, and her mother treats her like a disturbance rather than as a daughter.
When outsiders attack her village, Judith decides to bring Lucas’ father, who in better times had led their military, out of hiding in an attempt to save them all. Unfortunately, he’s not the only thing dug up from the past. His reappearance triggers all sorts of questions: what exactly happened to Judith while she was with him? Why didn’t she turn him in when she first returned to the village? And how much responsibility must Lucas take for his father’s crimes? Rather than clearing her name, Judith becomes even more of a social pariah.
The further devaluation of her social status has an unexpected effect on Judith. Instead of giving her life up as a lost cause, she decides that she has nothing left to lose and begins to craft a dream of independence, in which she is solely responsible for her own happiness. If only she could truly forget Lucas, she believes that she would be able to free herself of the unhappiness she has experienced in the village.
Julie Berry’s story explores how a young woman deals with the expectations of a judgmental world that leaves very little room for nonconformity. Judith struggles to express herself while remaining virtuous in the eyes of an extremely closed society. She’s not wholly consistent: her patience at times is frustrating, while at other times her disregard for norms seems shocking in light of her setting. Further, while it’s true that she dreams of a life away from others, Berry makes it clear that being with Lucas is the real key to her happiness, making her strives towards independence less satisfying.
What independence she does claim is further marred by the mean-mindedness of the other villagers. Whether or not Judith speaks, the question remains the same: is the truth enough to guide the hand of justice? Or will pettiness and judgment always get in the way?
Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on September 23, 2013