Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

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I received this book for free from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie BerryAll the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry
Published by Viking Juvenile on September 26th 2013
Genres: Historical, Mystery, YA
Source: Penguin
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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.

A strange, yet captivating book; All The Truth That’s in Me gives a reading experience like no other. I can’t say I’ve read anything quite like this before. It’s different! This is the best, if most simple way to describe it.

The way this book is written is as if, especially during the first part, we’re seeing a story unfold through bursts of random flashes of a life. There’s an editor’s note at the beginning of my copy that describes it as “a pinhole narrative – you start out looking through a tiny hole that allows you to see only a fraction of Judith’s world, and as the story goes on, the pinhole widens” It’s the the perfect way to exemplify the storytelling style. As you can guess, it’s not the kind of story where you fall into place right away, it takes time to situate yourself and make sense of anything you’re reading. But, it also compels you to move forward despite the disorientation it causes. The 2nd person narrative makes this novel even more unique. Judith is telling her story directly to Lucas – the boy she loves. As if in letter form. As if YOU were Lucas. Even though it threw me off my game once or twice where I had to stop and think for a second who she was referring to, I did find it was a brilliant choice for the type of novel this was.

This is a strange opinion, but I feel like I enjoyed the book, yet I did not. When I wasn’t reading I would find myself constantly thinking about it, but when I was reading, I felt restless, needing to make an effort to focus on the passages I was reading. I found the plot was very slow to progress even after the story got clear enough for me to grasp it in its entirety. I was also not aware this book was a historical fiction before I picked it up and read it – the blurb being too vague to make out much of anything (funnily, this ambiguity is what made me want to read it in the first place). This genre happens to be one I very rarely read and one of my least favorites. Thus I attribute some of my boredom to that alone. On the same note, the setting is never entirely established either, particularly in a historical sense. It makes it difficult to understand what kind of societal mindset we are dealing with. Nevertheless, due to the unique quality of the story and writing, I would still call this an exceptional read despite my ennui. Hence my all-over-the-place feelings (and review) toward the complete package!

What compelled me to keep reading, even re-read pages I dozed through, was the mystery as well as Judith’s determination in taking her life back after this trauma. Some parts are disturbing, some empowering. Through it all she stays much stronger than I would have in her shoes; not only does she have to live with what’s happened, her loss of voice is viewed with repugnance by others. It’s nothing but a tiny village with nowhere else to go. Though tiny, it’s a village surrounded by a mystery that had me NEEDING to find out the conclusion of. Finally, the fourth part of this book is superb, and it immediately made me want to give this 4 stars upon finishing; except I can’t ignore my earlier boredom. I do want everyone to read this, however, if only to experience it. The originality alone might make you a fan among many!


3 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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23 Responses to “Review: All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Wait, this is historical fiction? I had no idea at all. It seems like you had mixed feelings for this book.
    So far, all I’ve heard is a ton of praise for it, so I’m glad to see that it’s not all perfect. The writing style seems unique, but I wonder if I wouldn’t feel a bit frustrated with it.
    The main character does seem like she’s strong though, so that’s a plus. I was going to buy the book when it came out, but I think I’ll just wait for it to be available at the library.
    Great honest review, Giselle!

  2. Sapir

    This book sounds so good. The pinhole narrative idea sounds intriguing – I like books that let the reader figure out things by himself before giving him all the answers. It makes everything more suspenseful.. This book sounds like something special, and I will get it next time I visit the bookstore.

    Great review!!

  3. S.Huston

    I’m really torn between wanting to read this and wanting to stay away. Sometimes I struggle with different narrative views. I do like historical fiction and I didn’t realize this was in a historical setting so that could be a plus. At least I know (kinda) what I would be walking (reading) into thanks to your review!

  4. Sannah

    Not sure how I would like the switching of point of views. I’m very picky and like the transitions to be smooth. And is it historical? if so, that would throw me off my game since the cover is far from it. Still, I could use a good mystery. Great review.

  5. Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan

    Gosh, those three expressos look a little disappointing, because I had such high expectations for this book! I like that it’s not your average read — and to be honest, it kind of reminds me of IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma… for some unknown reason.

    The way this book is written is as if, especially during the first part, we’re seeing a story unfold through bursts of random flashes of a life.” — Not sure what I think of this, but I’m thinking it’s a very unique way of writing a book. Pinhole, huh? I don’t quite get what the editor means by that, but I’m intrigued, despite the fact that it takes a while to get into the full rhythm of the story. And I don’t think I’ve read a book from second POV before, so this would be a first.

    Ooh, that does sound like a strange predicament. I’m not quite sure what I think about that. I mean, it’s great that the book managed to occupy your mind when you weren’t reading it, but it’s so weird that it couldn’t seem to do the same when you WERE. And since I’m a pretty impatient reader, the slow plot does not bode well for me.

    So overall, not really what I was expecting from this book, but I’m glad that you enjoyed it somewhat, Giselle. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll be giving this a go anytime soon — not sure if I’ll be able to enjoy it, based on the things you’ve said — because it sounds a little too weird for my taste. But still, wonderful review!

  6. Jenni

    I was so sad when I started reading this one and found out that it was a historical fiction novel, that cover is a LIE! In the end I did like it a bit, but I probably wouldn’t read it again. Though, like you said, book 4 was really good.

  7. Alexia @ Adventures in Reading

    I just started reading this one last night and I am having SUCH a hard time with it. I think that the writing style is really throwing me off. I didn’t even realize it was historical fiction. If I had known that, I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry to snap it up.

  8. Candace

    I had some issues with the setting and time period just because we never really KNOW. In the beginning I thought maybe it wasn’t historical, maybe it’s like this cult or something that lives away from society. This not knowing for quite awhile threw me for a loop. I’m glad you mostly enjoyed this one as well.

  9. Molli

    It’s historical?! That actually makes ME really want to read it. Plus, 2nd person narrative is so amazing, when done well. The premise has sort of been haunting me for awhile on this one. But I’ve SO been there where you aren’t enjoying actually reading a book, but you can’t stop thinking about it. So odd!

    Nice review, chica.

  10. Annie

    Yep, I had NO IDEA from the synopsis that this was historical fiction and the cover doesn’t do anything to spell it out which is unfortunate. Sounds like you were listless because something was missing – I’m feeling that way about City of Bones which is why it’s taking me soo long to get through right now, 🙁 Thanks for the honest review honey, it’s been really helpful.

  11. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I’m so glad I read this review before I read the book. I had a lot of expectations for it, but now that I know it’s historical fiction (a genre I can’t seem to click with no matter how hard I try), I’ll know what I’m up against! Thanks! Great review.

  12. Shelly

    I heard this book was disturbing and strange but I had NO idea it’s in 2nd person narrative and that it’s historical fiction. I would have never guessed! The uniqueness of this book sounds compelling but I’m not sure if I’ll be interested while reading this book. Great review! 🙂

  13. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    Huh, this sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I would really like it. I didn’t know this was historical fiction either. I have only read one book that starts off in kind of letter form, then changed to a first person narrative in the second part of the book. I kind of liked the writing style, but it did feel odd to read at times. Great review babe!!