Judith returns to her small Puritan community at Roswell Station after a two year disappearance. She remains unable to speak, since her captor removed half her tongue. Her mother grudgingly allows her to live in her home, but rumors about Judith are whispered along the edges of her hearing. No one seems able to believe that she returned with her virtue intact.
Despite the murmurs and dirty looks, Judith tries her best to be kind to the townspeople, especially to her childhood friend Lucas. When an attack by Homelanders threatens to destroy the village and Lucas’s father, believed to be dead, returns to save the settlement, suspicion falls on Lucas. Has he known that his father lived all this time?
As the community begins to ostracize Lucas, Judith realizes she cannot stay silent and allow blame to fall on him for his father’s sins. She works with an unexpected ally to regain her voice and clear Lucas’s name.
The topic of abduction and the stark image on the cover of the book create the sense that this book will be filled with dark scenes and recollections of terrible abuse. In fact, that’s not so. There are a couple of very brief references to terrifying moments in captivity experienced by this young girl, but details are scarce and the author quickly moves on to other topics, leaving a strong sense of angst without the stories of abuse that some readers may not be prepared to handle.
Instead, Berry’s novel is a story of unexpected hope and heroism. A young girl struggles to regain her voice and to make herself heard in a community that has long overlooked and misjudged her. Her bravery and her unwavering love for her brother and her neighbors is inspiring and wholesome. The author’s use of prose and imagery bring to life the small Puritan town and its varied members.
As a lover of angsty teen novels, I found it refreshing to read a historical novel so emotionally charged and yet so hopeful. How many times have we read novels which ultimately condemn the rigidity of the Puritan culture? I loved that this novel didn’t go that route. Not that the leadership were without fault, but that hope, forgiveness and love – which believes the best – ultimately triumphed. Great story. Highly recommended.
Brief references to men’s lustful comments or actions toward Judith and discussions about whether her virginity is intact.
Judith finds comfort in a passage of scripture about captives grieving for their homeland. The pastor uses various verses to condemn a young man who is believed to have harbored a fugitive from the law.
Brief references to battle and battle-related injuries. A boy must have his leg amputated, but Judith doesn’t witness this. Judith briefly recalls an incident during her captivity where a man began to attack her, but quickly stopped. She also remembers seeing her friend choked to death. Very few details are given in these scenes.