Book in Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma5:34 PM
Title: The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: March 24, 2015
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Summary (via Goodreads):
“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.
I'm sure you've all noticed that the summary is in black. This is because I didn't want anyone to read it before knowing that this book is so much better if you read it without knowing anything about it. If you do want to read the summary, highlight it and you should be able to read it.
I read this book barely knowing anything about it. Sure, I read the summary, but I merely skimmed it. This was due to the fact that I wanted to read the book as fast as possible because I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make a review in time. So, when I started reading this book, the only things I knew about it were that there are characters named Violet and Amber and that a girl named Orianna connects them. I read this at around 10:00 pm last night and I slept at 1:30 am even though I planned to sleep at 12:00 just because I couldn't put the book down. I started reading it and from then on, I took every opportunity I could to read it. Waking up the next day, I instantly started reading The Walls Around Us with the goal to figure out what exactly was going on. I'd like to say that I now completely understand what happened, but I honestly don't.
Let me just say that Nova Ren Suma's writing is beautiful, flawless. She takes her time without taking too much time. She knows what words she needs to use to piece together this haunting story about friends, betrayal, mistakes, and crime. She is amazing. With short, simple sentences and precise descriptions, she created a tale that will stay with you long after you're read it. I have never heard of Nova before, but now, her name is not one that I will easily forget. She created characters that stayed true to who they were, but also managed to change and grow. Every single one of her characters are memorable, unique, important. I'd love to give you some quotes just to help you realize how great it is, but I would probably place the entire book here, for everything she wrote is gorgeous.
Amber is a girl who is locked up in a juvenile detention center, while Violet is a ballerina about to get into Juilliard and achieve everything she has ever wanted. This story was told by the two of them, and while their voices were similar in some ways, they had their own personalities, motivations. Orianna doesn't tell the story, but she is the center of it. With Amber, I can sense her motivation and the way she always has this sense of crazy underlying the calm but is also more mature than most people her age. With Violet, I could sense the ambition and the guiltless, honest, selfish way she acts to get where she wants. With Orianna, I could sense her loyalty and her humility even when she has so much talent that comes naturally. All three of them are connected in some way.
This book is shocking, not because the events weren't expected or because there were unexpected twists, but because even if you already know whats about to happen, you deny it, you wish it away, and when it finally comes, it hits you like bullet from a gun. I didn't expect the supernatural twist (because I barely read the summary) and I'm not very fond of supernatural stories, but in this case, it worked. Although there are supernatural happenings, the story contains so much of the raw truth about humanity and the world we live in. How not everyone who is found guilty is guilty, how not everyone who is said to be innocent is innocent, and how money has always and will most likely always be a huge factor as to who wins and who loses. I won't know exactly why what happened, happened, so I just like to think of it as justice working and the balance being restored. Honestly, this book is better off keeping some secrets because that's what makes it so great. That's what makes it alluring, appealing to readers. Nova knew what to tell us and what to let us figure out for ourselves. She wrote with a blunt honestly that also manages to be subtle when it needs to be.
I love this book. It is one of the most amazing things I have ever read. The world building, the writing, the plot, the characters are all just wow. I advice anyone who reads this to read every single word even if it takes y0u more time. It's worth it.