“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 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.”
Thoughts on the Novel: Violet is the kind of girl who has it all. She has the looks, the talent, and the money to help her achieve all of her hearts’ desires in life. Amber is the exact opposite in every way. Large whereas Violet is petite, lumbering where Violet is graceful, dead where Violet is alive, the two girls seemingly have nothing in common. Yet, as each tells her story, readers realize that their experiences will unravel the mystery of Ori’s story, a third girl who was poised to become one of life’s success stories until it all came tumbling down around her.
A tale of haves and have nots, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Sum shows the interplay of class structure as it relates to perception and, more importantly, to justice. Through Violet’s and Amber’s dichotomous stories, the details of Ori’s story become that much more tragic. The supernatural angle that makes up a large portion of the story’s ending is at once unique and intense, but also slightly fanciful given the seriousness of the story; the ending is just too tidy given the story’s subject matter. Thankfully, this will not prove a major detraction from a reader’s overall enjoyment of the novel or distraction from the solemnity of the girls’ lessons. The Walls Around Us is a chilling novel of suspense in which guilt and innocence are not what they seem.