Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s In Me is quickly garnering praise from critics and readers alike for its unique story and second-person narrative. The plot summary caught our attention immediately: Judith and her best friend disappear. Only Judith comes back alive, but she's been mutliated, and can no longer speak.
Today we have an electrifying excerpt from the book, and Julie shares her thoughts on what this scene means to her and what it was like to write it. Take a look:
You sink down on your haunches. I see the boy I once knew in your huddled limbs and face. Jip curls up beside you.
You’re soaking wet, and the wind is cold.
You lay yourself down in a hollow of ground, still clutching the handle of your ax.
Your eyes close, and still I watch. I am alarmed for you — this is not like you. I know you are assaulted on every side, by jeering youth and gossiping women, by wedding bells and memories. But this, and the bottle, these aren’t like you.
In time, you sleep.
You’re ill and exhausted. You wouldn’t know if a tree fell beside you. But you could catch your death out here.
Should I wake you and send you home, and mortify us both?
No. I have a better plan, one that will leave you guessing in the morning, but that thought pleases me.
I hurry to your house where I take the blankets from your bed and bring them back to where you lie. I ease the blankets over you, tucking them in around your legs, your back, your chest. You stir and murmur but you don’t wake. Slowly I twist the ax from your grip and lay it down behind you.
The wind bites, and you’re damp.
Then a terrible, wonderful thought bursts upon me and leaves me breathless. Would I dare to be so wicked? What might happen?
The sun is fully set, and we are closeted by shadows. I take off my cap and untie my braids. The wind brushes over my skin, lifts my hair, reaches through my dress to cool my burning inner parts.
I crawl under your blankets and lay me down beside you. The ground is cold and rough underneath my hip. I press my back into the bend of your body. The feel of you washes over me.
The earth tilts.
Your sleeping breath moves a section of my hair. I press in closer, fearing each breath of mine might wake you, each gallop of my heart might stir you.
I look up and see stars winking down on my transgression. But sin and the dread of it can’t reach this far. Together we grow warmer under your blankets. Jip moves and drapes himself over our ankles.
The stars’ cold stare reminds me: worse than a sinner, I’m a thief. I steal the touch you would not choose to give to me.
You’ll never know you’ve been robbed.
You need warmth.
Night in the woods makes all things possible.
I chose this scene to share because of the romantic tension inherent in Judith’s struggle. She’s an outcast in her world, a silent figure who has loved Lucas from afar for longer than she can remember. Though their shared history once gave Judith reason to think he might also care for her, subsequent tragedies have removed her from any consideration or eligibility for love, or so it seems. Still, she can’t help watching this boy. She’s instantly aware when anger and humiliation weaken him, and he finds himself alone, drunk and falling apart in the woods. Her concern for him is real, but her passion for him can’t resist seizing an opportunity, a chance at a touch she could never have with his wide-awake consent.
How did I feel as I wrote this? Hot and bothered, absolutely! I get all blushy and nervous when I write such scenes. I try to write from the body rather than the brain, especially in places like this, and so I felt this moment right along with her. It forces a fierce collision between longing and taboo, given the context of Judith’s age, situation and Puritanical background. In that sense, there’s more going on underneath the covers (ahem) than first meets the eye. Desire, restraint, giving in … I think I’d better go take a walk to cool down now.
- Julie Berry
All The Truth That’s In Me is available now, so be sure to pick up your copy today! This is one debut you won’t want to miss. And for more young adult authors, books, and buzz, visit our Everything Young Adult Page!