Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

So, yeah, book reviewing, I should get back on that. I've been reading a bunch of a winners lately, not exactly anything 5 star knock my socks off awesome, but a few that have had my socks only hanging on by a toe.  ;-)

I think I'd like to start with The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma today, but I'm not sure of my approach because I think the reason I loved this book as much as I did was that I had really no idea what to expect.  I mean, I read the synopsis on the back and everything, but somehow when I actually got into the meat of the book, it was nothing like I expected.

Orianna "Ori" Speerling is a teenage ballet dancer from the wrong side of the tracks.  Her mom left when she was a kid leaving her the daughter of a single dad.  Despite her circumstances, she is unarguably the most captivating dancer in her dance school, possessing a natural talent and flair that cast everyone else in shadow, including her best friend Violet "Vee" Dumont who has the upper class trappings Ori will never have, but can't quite keep up with her friend in sheer talent.  Ori is a more loyal friend than Vee deserves, always holding herself back so her friend can keep up.  The two share everything.  Ori practically lives at Vee's house.  That is, until something happens, something that finds Ori in the Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center while Vee dances her last high school recital and prepares to leave for Julliard.  The rest of the story comes via Ori's cell mate Amber, a presumed innocent victim of the justice system, who has found an unexpected place to belong among the inmates of Aurora Hills.

Without saying too much, let me just say how perfect The Walls Around Us ended up being for this autumn time of year.  The story it tells wanders from guilt and crime and grief into the downright eerie, and I loved it.  The Walls Around Us is one of those books that, if the "Young Readers" wasn't attached to its publisher's name, it would be difficult to peg as a YA book.  Suma doesn't sacrifice complexity or artful prose upon the altar of the book's would-be target audience, something I always appreciate in a well written YA book.  Each of her characters are fully actualized from free-spirit Ori, to angry, insecure Violet, to the mild-mannered Amber who brings out the unexpected camaraderie she's found among the fellow inmates of Aurora Hills by narrating her bits with "we" instead of "I."

The Walls Around Us is a beautifully composed, disturbingly rendered picture of the disturbing truth behind a pair of "perfect" ballerinas that goes beyond guilt and innocence to explore the natural and the supernatural.  It easily weaves between past and present, knitting together a story that is otherworldly and unexpected keeping readers on the edges of their seats until the truth is out and justice can finally be served.

(Received my copy in a publisher giveaway.)


  1. I've been eyeing this one for a while now. I really need to get to it sooner rather than later. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review!

  2. Don't you just love when FREE books turn out to be great reads?!? I'm adding this to my TBR. Thanks for the review.