by Julie Berry
Publishers Weekly This melancholy tale of a village outcast unfolds through the thoughts of Judith, who was kidnapped, held prisoner, and maimed by her captor. Two years later, she has returned home at age 18, but because of her severed tongue, she cannot explain her misfortunes or the crime she witnessed the night she was taken. Most of the townspeople shun her, and even her own mother acts ashamed. In some ways, Judith's silence protects her, but hiding the truth puts her and others at risk. Encouraged by an old friend, Judith is inspired to try to regain some speech. If she can find the means and courage to communicate what she knows, she and other innocent victims might find a form of salvation. Written as Judith's internal monologue directed toward Lucas, the boy she loves, Berry's (The Amaranth Enchantment) novel is suspenseful and haunting. Her poetic narrative ("There's nothing so bright as the stream by day, nothing so black on a moonless night") will draw readers in, and the gradual unveiling of secrets will keep them absorbed. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list Like all things in this cunningly stylized novel, the setting is left undefined; a rough guess is mid-1800s America. The characters and plot, too, are mysteries in need of unfolding, and Berry's greatest accomplishment is jumbling the time line with confidence, thereby sprinkling every page with minor (or major) revelations. These trappings gild a not-that-unusual melodrama: 18-year-old Judith pines for Lucas, who has chosen another girl. Perhaps this is because Judith is mute, her tongue having been cut off by a madman who just happened to be Lucas' father. A few frustrating misunderstandings aside, the story gracefully incorporates everything from the right to education to the horrors of war to the freedom that comes along with acquiring language. What will stick in most readers' minds, though, is the first-person prose, which ranges from the unusually insightful (We were four people: the children we'd been, and grown strangers now) to the just plain pretty (Will her china face turn bronze beside you as you labor in your fields?). A strange but satisfying and relatively singular mix.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.