Judith and another girl disappeared from their small town - after two years, Judith returned alive, but unable to speak - the other girl didn't return at all. Told alternately in the first and second person, both from Judith's point of view, All the Truth That's In Me is a tense and stifling tale. Judith, oppressed, compressed and, er, repressed, is desperate to find some way of speaking out. She wants to tell the boy she loves how she feels. She wants to communicate openly with her mother and brother. She even wants to tell the town the truth of her disappearance. But she doesn't - instead, she lives in silence, and takes some small comfort in the fact that she's become a forgotten non-entity. However, as events spiral further and further out of her control, Judith's forced to choose between the relatively safety of being overlooked and the fearful known of speaking up.
The setting of All the Truth That's In Me is, well, a bit weird - something like Colonial America, with a mysterious overseas enemy and religious Puritanism. This only adds to the stifling atmosphere of the book: the town of Roswell Station is tiny and everyone truly lives in one another's lives. It also accentuates Judith's choices (or lack thereof): there is the tiny, horrible, insular known of the town and the great and wild unknown of the rest of the world. Judith has options, but they're extremely limited - leaving her family would mean risking death in the wilderness.
The intensity is further ramped up by the shifting point of view. Judith's life revolves around the (not so proverbial) boy next door, a good-hearted neighbour that she's loved since she was a child. Her behaviour isn't exactly... ok... she watches him without him knowing, breaks into his home, touches him while he's napping... and the use of the second person makes these scenes all the more intimate and disturbing. Nor is this ever condoned as ok - Judith's obsessive crush is a result of her own horrible experiences (in the past, and with her family). She's so desperate to find an ideal of love (or basic human warmth) that is is more sad than scary.
Judith's uncomfortable stalker-y behaviour is a mirror of the way the rest of the town behaves with her: from her kidnapper to the town gossip to the fire-and-brimstone preacher to the lecherous schoolteacher. Every person in the town forces him or herself into Judith's life, making decisions for her, telling her what to do, watching her every move; it isn't about agency, but about invasion. Everyone is living in her space, in her life. It is claustrophobic. If Judith takes a bit of this power for herself, to watch over her neighbour, it is only a small reflection of the broken, horrible system that rules this society.
All the Truth That's In Me does have a plot arc, with a resolution and everything, but the strength of this book isn't in the adventure - Judith's fight to save her town and herself, but in the bigger questions: will a town like this ever be ok? What should Judith do, not only during the course of this book, but after it? Speaking the truth is half the story. What you do next is the rest... Despite attempts to tie everything up at the end, All the Truth That's In Me leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and I'm glad of it - this is a powerful book that prompts a lot of interrogation and, hopefully, conversation.