The Walls Around US

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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 the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Publication Date: March 24, 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers

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My Thoughts:

Everything I know about bombs tells me they are built to explode. But something must set them off first. There must be a trigger before the noise goes off, before the big burst of bright, choking smoke. Otherwise a girl could stay quiet for years.

This is a strange yet fascinating book. I went into it thinking it would be a supernatural mystery, but for most of the story, it read more like a psychological thriller. The combination of these two elements along with Nova Ren Suma’s gorgeous writing style makes for a really unique novel.

The storyline is slowly revealed through the perspectives of Violet, Orianna’s best friend and fellow ballet dancer, and Amber, a girl who is serving a sentence at a juvenile detention center called Aurora Hills . Through these two narrations, the reader slowly begins to collect bits and pieces of information about Orianna and the brutal crime she is charged with.

What I enjoyed the most about this type of slow unravelling is that it leaves the reader questioning all the characters’ reliability, but also unfolds information in a way that helps to reveal the true personalities of all three girls in addition to the events that connect them.

Maybe, long ago, we used to be good. Maybe all little girls are good in the beginning.

The Walls Around Us makes you question what people (i.e. teenage girls) are capable of and how the people and environment around someone can influence their choices. The book also gives quite the insight into the competitive and often vicious world of ballet (it reminded me a bit of Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me). Because of the nature of Violet’s point of view, it’s often difficult to decipher reality from fiction and so the whole book is a bit Black Swan in it’s psychological unsteadiness – an aspect I found to make the book even more enjoyable.

While I enjoyed the contemporary thriller-esque details of the book the most, it was also interesting to see how the supernatural played a role in the plot as well. Because I picked up this book expecting more of a ghost story, I was definitely not disappointed. While the ending could come across to some as a bit of a stretch, I enjoyed how well it connected with the more supernatural elements of the story. Ultimately, this was such a unique reading experience and I’m only disappointed that it took me this long to discover Nova Ren Suma’s work!

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