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The Walls Around Us

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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.

Praise for Imaginary Girls:
“A surreal and dreamy world where magical thinking is carried to a chilling extreme.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Praise for 17 & Gone:
“Suma’s exquisite sentence-level writing and fine eye for creepy detail are in abundant evidence.” —Kirkus Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mar 16, 2015 – At first glance, Amber and Violet have nothing in common. Amber, imprisoned at Aurora Hills juvenile detention center for her role in the death of her stepfather, spends her days dreaming of the momentary freedom she and the other inmates experienced when a summer storm knocked out power to their cells. Violet, a ballet dancer on her way to Juilliard, has a long, free life ahead of her were it not for the guilt drawing her toward Aurora Hills. Their connection comes through a third girl, Ori, who became Amber's new cellmate after the storm, and who was sent to Aurora Hills because of what she did to protect Violet. Suma (17 & Gone) interweaves past and present with a haunting sense of unease, drawing readers onward with well-executed suspense and the compelling voices of her two narrators. The occasional vagaries of the plot are more than redeemed by the strength of the prose, and a startling final twist brings the three girls to a satisfying, if unorthodox, kind of justice. Ages 14 up.

Customer Reviews

Didn’t have to buy it to read the whole book 🤷🏼‍♀️

I downloaded the sample and it immediately gave me the entire book. It even still had the flag on the cover picture that said “sample”. Not sure why; but I ain’t complainin👌🏼 The book was kind of dark but I still felt drawn to finish it. 3 Stars just because of the dark element and it was slow in some places. The ending was satisfying though.

An Excellently Disturbing Read

I would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers & NetGalley for giving me a copy of this e-book to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review.

Goodreads Teaser: "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."

A shockingly good tale of justice, murder, redemption, and the unknown told through three girls lives. Three very different girls, each from their own walks of life and coming from distinctly unrelated backgrounds.

Though a bit of a climb in the beginning, once you catch the rhythm of the story it weaves its way deeper and deeper under your skin until are unable to put the book down, for some long after their finished reading. Amber is a mix of contradictions, and acts as the narrator for life inside of Aurora Hills. Through her life in juvie is well described, all of the roles that inmates fill painted, but still leaving room for the individual in each role to shape her own story to the extent she is willing to share with her other inmates. But of course what isn't said out loud is spoken in other ways.

Violet, a.k.a. Vee, and Orianna, a.k.a. Ori, have their own story outside of Aurora Hills, which we learn from Vee. She comes from a background of wealth and privilege while Ori comes from the wrong side of the tracks, something that irritates Vee's parents for all the years of their friendship. Although Vee seems to have everything, she lacks self-esteem. That lack combined with her sense of entitlement don't make for the nicest of people. Even when Ori befriends her in their first ballet class Vee finds a way to hold her resentments close. For all though Ori comes from a broken family that lives in the wrong part of town, she is loved by all. Ori possesses an inner glow and beauty that can't be bought or faked. And she is an absolute natural at ballet. While Vee has to work so much harder to be good, when Ori dances she's called transcendent.

As the story unfolds, switching between Amber's and Violet's narratives, we only slowly begin to see what happened. What really happened is a mystery that isn't always answered. The same is true of the unexplainable, almost mystical parts of the story. They work so well within the story, bringing it to a whole different level, yet they also left me with a raft of questions when all was said and done.

If I had to describe this book I'd probably say that it's part reality show, part ghost story, all teenage emotion and reasoning. The fact that there are three main characters and yet it's only told by two of those three makes for an interesting twist. And that is only one of several mind boggling twists and turns the story follows. Just when you think you've grasped an essential truth something else is revealed or concealed, once again leaving you grasping at straws, trying to make sense of all the pieces that create the whole tapestry of this twisted tale. Absolutely worth reading, and highly recommended. It will leave your mind spinning, and Ori, Vee, Amber, and all the other characters of Aurora Hills will stay with you long after you've finished this book.

Confusingly good

This is such a great book. It's a bit hard to follow but the ending has such an amazing plot twist. Really great!

The Walls Around Us
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  • $9.99
  • Level: Grades 9-12
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Crime & Mystery
  • Published: Mar 24, 2015
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 336 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings