The Walls Around Us
Summary:The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices. 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.
I am quite unsure about how I feel about Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us. On one hand, the writing is exquisite and lyrical, but on the other hand I felt there was very little plotwork actually being done throughout the novel.
This is a story about two very different girls. There’s Violet, who is on the way to achieving her dream of becoming a professional dancer when her deepest secret threatens to be revealed; and there’s Amber, who has been locked up in a juvenile detention facility. These two girls never meet, yet their lives are linked by a single girl named Orianna, who helps them finally see what both girls are unwilling to see: the truth.
I think the plot is what lacked for me here: there isn’t actually much plotwork being done. It’s an intriguing and certainly twisted story about how two girl’s lives intertwine equipped with beautiful writing, but, other than that, there really isn’t much else to it.
It was the most private thing we had left—held even closer than our bodies, because our bodies were searched. But no one could shake out the truth from inside us. They couldn’t search us for that. Our guilt and our innocence were only our own.
Above everything else, however, this is a story about guilt and innocence, and what happens when the two are mistaken for each other. The narrator herself says at one point that no one person is completely innocent nor completely guilty, something that really starts to sink in as the story progresses.
The characters here are wonderfully written. You have no idea which characters – if any – are innocent and which are guilty. This provides a unique psychological aspect quite similar to the one provided in murder mysteries with portions written from the perspective of the culprit, a technique that never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Although it may be a bit slow to start, once the pieces of the puzzle come together at the end of the story and you are finally able to see the connection between the three girls, you’ll realize what a talented writer Suma truly is, and you’ll be left unable to get this story out of your head.