“With evocative language, a shifting timeline and more than one unreliable narrator, Suma subtly explores the balance of power between the talented and the mediocre, the rich and the poor, the brave and the cowardly . . . To reveal more would be to uncover the bloody heart that beats beneath the floorboards of this urban-legend-tinged tale.” —The New York Times
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices--one still living and one dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old ballerina 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: 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?
PRAISE FOR THE WALLS AROUND US:
“A gorgeously written, spellbinding ghost story.” —Chicago Tribune
"Unputdownable . . . the well-paced plot reveals guilt, innocence, and dark truths that will not stay hidden." —The Boston Globe
“Suma excels in creating surreal, unsettling stories with vivid language, and this psychological thriller is no exception. Along the way, Suma also makes a powerful statement about the ease with which guilt can be assumed and innocence awarded, not only in the criminal justice system, but in our hearts--in the stories we tell ourselves. A fabulous, frightening read.” —Booklist, starred review
“The wholly realistic view of adolescents meeting the criminal justice system is touched at first with the slimmest twist of an otherworldly creepiness, escalating finally to the truly hair-raising and macabre. Eerie, painful and beautifully spine-chilling.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“This haunting and evocative tale of magical realism immerses readers in two settings that seem worlds apart . . . Suma’s unflinchingly honest depiction of the potentially destructive force of female friendship and skillful blending of gritty realism with supernatural elements is reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, and the eerie mood she evokes is unnervingly potent.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“In lyrical, authoritative prose, Suma weaves the disparate lives of [the] three girls into a single, spellbinding narrative that explores guilt, privilege, and complicity with fearless acuity. . . The twisting, ghostly tale of Ori’s life, death, and redemption is unsettling and entirely engrossing.” —The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
“Gratifyingly disturbing . . . Suma craftily sets the two stories against one another, moving between Violet’s fiercely grounded account and Amber’s hauntingly destabilized one, enticing readers to figure out how the pieces go together.” —Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
“Powerful . . . The compelling narrative, written in scintillating prose and featuring incredibly real characters, brings the two stories together in an explosive finale with a supernatural twist that results in a satisfying resolution.” —VOYA, starred review
“Gripping . . . Just try to put this down.” —Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review
“A suspenseful tour de force, a ghost story of the best sort, the kind that creeps into your soul and haunts you.” —Libba Bray, author of The Diviners and A Great and Terrible Beauty
“Fearlessly imagined and deliciously sinister, The Walls Around Us is hypnotic, luring the reader deeper and deeper into its original, shocking narrative.” —Michelle Hodkin, author of the Mara Dyer Trilogy
“Written in luscious and deliciously creepy prose not easy to forget . . . This is a story about guilt and innocence, about secrets and how deep we let people into those places within us, and it’s a story about how the past can define our present, even if we try desperately to keep that past under wraps. Put it on your radars now; this is an outstanding literary young adult novel more than worth the wait.” —Book Riot
#1 Spring 2015 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick
A Junior Library Guild Selection
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 ReviewsSee All
A downright disturbing, compelling, and deliciously entertaining read
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Apparently this is the tagline on the street: “Orange is the New Black Swan.” YES. Spot. On.
THE WALLS AROUND US is a downright disturbing, compelling, and deliciously entertaining read. Nova Ren Suma is a beautiful storyteller. The way she constructed the mystery made the book un-put-downable. I had to solve the puzzle–had to know what happened to these girls. The juxtaposition of two very intense and often volatile environments: prison and the ballet world–pure brilliance. Add the fact that these are teenage girls to the mix and you’re in for one hell of ride and an even more satisfying conclusion. A truly unique story. Well worth a read!
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.