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All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

He thought he’d silenced her for good.

Interests/Topics: identity, romance, family relations, hypocrisy, expectations, judgement, gender roles, religion

Curriculum Connections: English, Religious Studies, Equity Studies

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: Are you a good listener? I mean a really good listener? The kind of listener who turns off her phone, sits down, looks a person in the eye, and doesn’t interrupt, compete for air time, or judge? The kind of listener who doesn’t let his mind wander, can paraphrase (accurately) what the person has said, and recognizes that the person talking has every right to his feelings and opinions?

I’ve had days where I’ve truly felt as if no one listened to a word I said: my students were rambunctious and distracted, my daughter enforced her nine-year-old independence, my husband practised his selective listening, and the darn dog didn’t come when called. It’s unbelievably deflating when you feel as if your voice doesn’t matter to anyone.

I am lucky though. I live in a society where voices and opinions do matter, a place where sharing my thoughts is protected by the law. Judith, in All the Truth That’s in Me, doesn’t fare so well. She is silenced by a small religious community that values the ideas of men, by a day and age that keeps girls in the home, and by a mother who is more concerned with the family’s reputation than her daughter’s emotional stability. And then there’s that lunatic who cut out her tongue.

Judith’s silence is mistaken for ignorance, a vital error made the community members. But when one caring friend takes the time to teach her to speak again, people’s lives are changed forever.

Never assume that a mute can’t see or hear: it just could be a fatal mistake.

Flavour: “There was never a hope. I’m entitled to nothing. There is no one to tell, and no way to tell it, as I am now. I couldn’t find the words even if I was able. No words could ease this unbearable weight. I cry to my willow tree: robbed of years, robbed of dignity, language, tranquillity.” (21)

“’I have long since decided there is more to you than meets the eye,’ she said. ‘Your tongue may be damaged, but your mind isn’t. You miss nothing.’” (101)

“To say nothing is an answer of a kind. To answer is another. To lie could protect you. Would you believe what you wanted to? To tell the truth will make me loathsome in your eyes. Even more than I already am. I pledged to give you all the truth that’s in me. And you want me to tell you this.” (144)

“My thoughts swirl and scatter like snowflakes on an errant wind. Will I help him make something of his life? Who will help me? Why does everyone presume that I, as damaged merchandise, forfeit any claim to happiness? That I expect nothing, have no ambitions or longings of my own?… And what rules of economy dictate that a boy without a foot is more whole than a girl without a tongue?” (157)

“’What’s the meaning of this?’ Reverend Frye demands. ‘Who rang the bell?’ He and the aldermen have caught up with the rest of the village. Without their robes they lack some of their fearfulness. The tips of their noses are red with cold. ‘I did,’ Goody Pruett says. ‘Miss Judith Finch here has something to say.’” (258)

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