Algonquin Young Readers
March 24, 2015
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"Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.
We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
After reading Imaginary Girls and Dani Noir (aka Fade Out), I thought I knew what I was getting into with The Walls Around Us. Yeah, no. The Walls Around Us is much more intense than I remember either of those being.
Author Nova Ren Suma somehow takes the world of ballet - like serious ballet, the I-want-to-go-to-Julliard-and-be-a-ballerina ballet not the six-year-old in a tutu ballet - and life in a juvenile detention center and makes them seem like the perfect combination.
Violet is counting the days until she leaves for Julliard. She's more than ready to go, with her things packed, her plans made. She isn't running away from the past and what happened, but neither can she forget it.
Amber is serving a sentence in the juvenile detention center. Even if some of the other girls are counting the days, weeks or months until their release, Amber knows there isn't much point in that for her.
When one strange night brings the two together, we begin to see how they are connected.
Through Amber's story and then Violet's we get Orianna's story. It's through her story that we learn some truths about the other girls, about Amber and about Violet.
The Walls Around Us is a magical, confusing, intense story that is guaranteed to get into your head. We know from almost the very start of the book when the two girls, Amber and Violet, cross paths but the temporal when of that, the how and what it all means remain a mystery. We also know they have their secrets, their lies, even. But as Violet herself makes clear and Amber tells us several times in regards to the girls in the detention center, the truth may be relative.
Or whatever they want it to be.
It's hard (for me, at least) to really review The Walls Around Us without including spoilers. I got involved with each girl's story as it was being told but kept realizing I had no idea how they overlapped and what the ending was going to be.
It is definitely a really good read and how it all pieces together, how each girl's story plays its part and who each of them really is are beyond what I could imagine. I never had any connection with Violet's character. I didn't like her, that was for sure, but also stayed more disconnected from her character.
The ending, even as it wasn't what I was expecting, fits the story . . . and poses some real questions.
Even though this wasn't a book I loved, it's still one I'm going to recommend and I really cannot wait to see what Nova Ren Suma writes next.
digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley