This book was nothing short of stunning. Compelling. Unique. Even Ms. Berry's authors note at the end is eloquent & full of emotion. There are so many things about this novel that would normally be a complete turn-off for me... But they all came together so beautifully and perfectly that I couldn't put it down. I'll be mulling Judith's story over for a long while. Full review to come.
UTA: A few days later, and I'm still just as impressed by this book as I was when I finished it. I've never read anything like All the Truth That's In Me, and I'm so glad I picked it up. It reminds me of Jellicoe Road (one of my all-time favorite novels) in that it's really tricky to get into (in this case you don't know the time period, location, who the narrator is or who they're speaking to) but if you give it a chance, the payoff is SO SO great. About 1/3 of the way in I gave up overthinking the second person narrative and shifting timeframe, and just absorbed Ms. Berry's sparse-yet-rich prose and it was such a fulfilling read. I was utterly captivated as Judith's story unraveled. Part historical fiction, part thriller, part romance, part family drama, part adventure it's really difficult to assign it to a specific genre. There are so many aspects to the novel and Berry masterfully weaves everything together - all the little details, and shifting timelines, etc - with stunning prose.
This novel was a rare treat, and I am so glad I put it on my TBR list. All the Truth That's in Me will most certainly be a reread later on, and I will be seeking out Ms. Berry's other novels as well.
“Did we risk our lives to defend a just society, where guilt must be proven and not assumed? Or are we no better than the oppressive kings from whom our fathers fled?”
“If I thought I could never love you more, I didn't understand you well enough.”
I'm so conflicted. On one hand, the writing, the layering & unfolding of the story, the utter batshit-craziness of the main characters... it's brilliant. The sheer amount of work Flynn must have put in to give Nick & Amy & Diary Amy their respective voices - and particularly crafting the details of the crime & resolution - is pretty incredible. Such despicable terrible people. I found her musings on the Midwest as expressed through Amy's observations, interesting, as well. So so many quotable one-liners & societal commentary in general.
But the ending? It fell so far short for me that I can't manage to be excited. It felt like the book was essentially a metaphor for Nick - everything finally kowtows under the weight of Amy. As if Nick AND the ending just gave up. Gave in. Like they couldn't hold up under the impressive weight of the first 2/3 of the story (or Amy). I needed some resolution - or even a hint of one. Just something insinuating that Nick & Boney & Tanner & Go - or god, even Mrs. Collings - would nail the bitch down the road & Amy would get her just desserts. Or Nick. They were both despicable people. I'd even have settled for something simple & out of the blue like Amy falling down the stairs & snapping her neck a year later... It was all so absurd that choosing to end it that way just did not make sense. And maybe that was Flynn's intent, that sometimes terrible, ridiculous things happen & bad people get away with it & go on with their lives... But for all the pop & sizzle & execution of the first part of the book, I expected to be really gobsmacked at the end.
I want to give it all the stars for the writing & nuanced layering of both plot & characterization, but the ending should have made what was a hell of a ride a lot more worthwhile. I'm glad to hear that for the movie, Fincher & Flynn have scrapped the last 1/3 of the book entirely & are going from scratch.
“It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.”
“Tampon commercial, detergent commercial, maxi pad commercial, windex commercial - you'd think all women do is clean and bleed.”
A LOT of feelings. So many emotions. My 4 stars (rather than 5) are not for the ending, which I thought was actually very well done, but for the content around the middle. For the (many many) overall themes & incredibly astute observations about life & love & the world we live in, Ms Roth gets all of the stars.
“You don’t believe things because they make your life better, you believe them because they’re true.”
“And as I stare out at the land, I think that this, if nothing else, is compelling evidence for my parents’ God, that our world is so massive that it is completely out of our control, that we cannot possibly be as large as we feel."
“There is a difference between admitting and confessing. Admitting involves softening, making excuses for things that cannot be excused; confessing just names the crimes at its full severity.”
“I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me- they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.”
“Just as I have insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know, without being told, that's what love does, when it's right-it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be. This is right.”
“We are not people who touch each other carelessly; every point of contact between us feels important, a rush of energy and relief.”
“She said that everyone has some evil inside them, and the first step to loving anyone is to recognize the same evil inside ourselves,so we're able to forgive them.”
“To me, when someone wrongs you, you both share the burden of that wrongdoing - the pain of it weighs on both of you. Forgiveness, then, means choosing to bear the full weight all by yourself. Caleb's betrayal is something we both carry, and since he did it, all I've wanted is for him to take its weight away from me. I am not sure that I'm capable of shouldering it all myself - not sure that I am strong enough, or good enough.”
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved for the sake of something greater.”