I am all for unsettling books. The ones where you don’t know exactly what’s happening, or where you’re going. The ones where you’re trying to figure out exactly what kind of book this is as you read, and end up baffled at the end because of all the revelations – or just still very unsettled and thinking about this for a long, long while after closing the last page. The Walls Around Us definitely falls into this category, and if you love these kind of books, then I can only advise you to try out this one.
A CAPTIVATING, MYSTERIOUS STORYTELLING
“Home is where the heart is, and where the hell is, and where the hate is, and where the hopelessness is. Which made Aurora Hills pretty much like home.”
Told from a dual point of view, we are following Amber, locked up in the Aurora Hills detention center for a crime she may or may not have committed. We are also following Violet’s life, eighteen-years-old and promised to a fantastic career as a ballerina. Then there’s Orianna, a ghost, a presence in this whole story and what they say in the synopsis really is the key tying up this whole story together. Orianna isn’t a character telling the story, but she is here and it’s almost overwhelming.
“Sometimes it could be the smallest thing that could topple over a whole life, and, in the end, destroy it.”
Right from the beginning, we’re thrown into a world we do not know the rules of, caught up by a strange, captivating yet very mysterious writing style. As the story goes on, we get to know the rules and the characters more and more, but still, always, there is this hint of something, just like a hint of magic that the author manages to insert into her story with her writing. Except it’s kind of dark, somber, unsettling, like a dark cloud hanging above our heads every time, and you have no idea when the cloud is going to burst and drown you in its rain, or hit you with thunder, hurricane. All the time I was reading, I was engrossed in this crazy atmosphere, waiting for the revelations, waiting to realize what really was linking these two stories together. I was looking for clues, things in the writing, in what the characters said or did, to help me figure out really the key to this strange story. Who really, are these two girls, and what, really, this story is all about. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
“I knew that just because people on the outside were free and clean, it didn’t mean they were the good ones.”
This story is told from a dual point of view; and both girls aren’t easy characters to fall in love with. They are flawed, and they made so many mistakes, some forgivable and some others not. I am all for flawed and realistic characters, so I do need to point out that, there, they both were GREAT. However, I had kind of a hard time growing fond of the two of them – especially Violet. I can’t really say a lot without spoiling the story, and believe me, if you’re considering reading this, you do not want to be spoiled. Let’s just say that I am thankful for all of the realistic characters, even if I didn’t fall in love with them like I could have with some other characters. But maybe it’s a story where you don’t and shouldn’t fall in love with them. If both Amber and Violet are telling us the story, this third person tying them together, Orianna, definitely is more than just a presence, a ghost passing by: we learn about her just as much as about the other characters, which made her real and three-dimensional. This immersion into the complexity of the characters’ feelings made this story even more engrossing and fascinating to read, because REALLY WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING HERE.
AN UNSETTLING STORY
“This is called closure, and it’s also called justice, and they are not always the same thing.”
I think both the strong suit and weakness of the story, is how unsettling this was to read, and this is probably why I won’t be giving this 5 stars. Intrigued, engrossed, curious, these feelings collided all at once while I was reading, and this was so weird I couldn’t stop thinking about it, at times. However, at times, this story left me with a feeling of uneasiness I didn’t enjoy, because I couldn’t quite put on why I was feeling this, until we are given the revelations of, really, what is happening, and the last pages are giving us some kind of solution and wrap things up as they should have been right from the start.
Told in a beautiful, but very unsettling way, The Walls Around Us is a book you should read without knowing too much about it before. It’s a story about guilt, innocence, it’s a mystery from beginning to end and a story that stays in your mind for a long, long time.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read The Walls Around Us? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?
Do you enjoy reading unsettling books? Share your thoughts in comments!
Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us, Published by Algonquin Young Readers, March 24th 2015.
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.