Judith…Worm…unwanted. That wasn’t the case before. She was a happy child with parents and a little brother. She loved to sing and learn, listen and speak. She had friends. She had a crush on a boy named Lucas. But this all disappeared the year she turned 16. Now after two years gone, she has returned with her tongue cut out…silent to the past and what happened to her.
Now she is part of the background. Her father is gone, having died while she was gone. Her mother doesn’t even speak her name, much less acknowledge her presence because Judith is the one who brought misery upon her household. Her brother, now head of the household, is trying hard to be a man in a boy’s body. As a pariah, she has no one who wants to be her friend, and worst of all, Lucas is to be married. All of her thoughts about him during her two years of captivity are now turned to dust. She can’t help but still love him, even if he doesn’t return it, but she’s used to that. No one loves her…she is a silent and odd sentinel, alone with just her thoughts and the rumors that swirl around her.
But then trouble comes. Homelanders are coming to exact vengeance and destroy the village. While Lucas, Darrel and others leave to defend their town, Judith knows they won’t win. What she knows is she must revisit her nightmare and convince him to help, whatever the cost. If she disappears again, no one will notice nor care. She’s willing to sacrifice herself to save those she loves who don’t love her back.
But when the truth finally speaks for itself, the entire town is rocked to its very core. Who is telling lies and who is keeping them? Sometimes those that speak quietly are heard the loudest…
Julie Berry writes an OUTSTANDING historical fiction novel that drew me in with the first chapter read. There are two things that make this book stand out…well, make that three. First, is the fact that it’s written in first person only, which is a rarity with young adult novels. The reader sees through the eyes of Judith and without omniscience of the good, bad and ugly. The second is the fact that while not telling the reader the setting, I was drawn to the parallels between modern society and historical society where not much about human nature has changed. The setting came out slowly and put an emphasis on who and what people do, which is the crux of the book. And lastly, the emotional pull between reader and Judith is powerful. She is a character you hurt for, love when no one else does, and hope for. No wonder it’s on the YALSA Top Teen 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults 2014. HIGHLY recommended JH/HS