The Walls Around Us

The Walls Around Us

by Nova Ren Suma
4.4 16

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The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

“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?


“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


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616204860
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 03/24/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 24,715
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, a finalist for an Edgar Award. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in the Hudson Valley, spent most of her adult life in New York City, and now lives in Philadelphia.

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The Walls Around Us 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
TheIndigoQuill More than 1 year ago
See full review @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Two words: BOOK HANGOVER. Ever since I've finished this book I've been begging everyone I know to read it so I can have someone to discuss it with. It was just that good. May it be noted that you will either love this book or hate it. If you don't mind being confused the majority of the book because you're trying to figure out what exactly is happening..then you'll enjoy the mystery and intrigue that keeps you unsettled throughout the entire storyline. Here's how I sum up the plot: You have two ballerinas, Ori and Violet. Ori has a natural-born talent for her craft, but Violet is the big green jealousy monster who stands in Ori's shadow. Violet might be crazy, but we aren't sure. Violet may have murdered two other dancers out of blinding fury, or maybe Ori did it. Perhaps they both worked in tandem, but we aren't sure of that either. Then you have Amber who's the longest standing resident of the juvenile detention center that Ori is sent to (even though she might be innocent), and she may have killed a guy, but then again, maybe she didn't. Then there's a mysterious mass poisoning that may have killed everyone. Oh, and there might be ghosts. But we don't know if that's the reality or just hallucinations. Frankly, we aren't too sure of anything. Maybe the reader is the crazy one? The plot thickens... The Walls Around Us reads in the context of maddening confusion, and I loved every moment of it. It kept me turning pages so I could hope to find answers, and even now I still have questions. The reader is left to determine how exactly the book really ended. It was just so good! Nova Ren Suma's writing is exquisite, but not complicated. Her execution is artful without taking away from the story. The writing itself is easy to understand, while the movement of the plot is what keeps the mystery hanging around the text. This book is entirely character driven, so most of our time is spent watching the characters develop during and after the action, and it is their thoughts that reveal to us what is happening. YOU WILL LIKE THIS BOOK if you like mystery, focusing mostly on the characters, enjoy realistic fiction with a touch of (possible) paranormal, and enjoy a novel that does not tie a neat little bow at the end. YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS BOOK if you want a more plot-driven storyline, too much character insight bores you, you don't like being confused during the majority of the book, and you want to have all the answers by the time you close the cover. That's just not going to happen. If you do decide to read this book, tell me your thoughts, because there are so many more aspects that I would like to discuss with someone! Anyone. Seriously. Even if you didn't like it, I just need to talk about it. And you probably will too, because you will no doubt have a book hangover in some capacity like I do a whole week later.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Twisting and turning, never knowing exactly how it all plays out until the end and then, incredible! It was fascinating how things were presented and as I sifted through the readings to grasp the details of the lives of the three girls and how they are connected, their stories I cannot get enough of. Such detail and told with such conviction, their stories grabbed at my emotions and pulled me in. There is Amber, who has spent the past three years inside a Juvenile Detention Center. Amber finds contentment in her new surroundings, and she takes great pride in her job of pushing the library cart around to her fellow inmates. Amber was a complex character for me as I thought she downplayed herself as she wrapped herself up in the happenings around her. It broke my heart to see this but her love of books gave me hope that someday, she will break free. Violet, oh the dancer, Violet. She’s going to Juilliard and can’t be more excited about this fact. Dancing consumes her life and she got on my nerves from the beginning. Her I’m-good attitude and the fact that she ditched her best friend really had me riled. How she had any friends really baffled me. Then there is Ori. Ori and Violet were best friends. My heart went out to her: her flare on life and her attitude was very optimist, what wasn’t there to love about her. Even thrown into a hostile situation, Ori remained calm and composed and she could create change if given the opportunity. There is so much to love about this book and to put my finger on one reason is hard. I loved the stories that each character lives contained, they were complex and so far-reaching. I loved the mystery element of this book and how the book never really had one direction, it twists and turned many times and it was like a puzzle. I loved the characters and what they stood for, who they were or what they wanted to be. I loved so much more too. I received a copy from the book from NetGalley and Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of crime, punishment, and injustice among 42 girls at a juvenile detention center whose walls age and tumble and rise again in this haunting and psychologically twisted tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I apsolutley love this book and i think if you really read in between the lines youll understand it perfectly once again love this book:)
Halston Seabolt More than 1 year ago
I was given this book as a review copy from Netgalley. This book sounded really interesting when I looked at it and it definitely didn't disappoint. You start off with Amber a girl who's been incarcerated for manslaughter. She's been there three years and one night the power goes out and doors unlock. Yet she feels like she's lived this night before. She sees someone a girl who doesn't belong at Aurora Hills. She doesn't even look real. And this girl calls her "Ori" a name she's never heard before. Then we see Violet who's a ballerina and days away from going off to Julliard. Orianna  (Ori) has been sent to Aurora Hills for the killing of two other ballerina's. Violet was Ori's bestfriend she was also Amber's cellmate. This book was took so many twists it was unreal. I couldn't stop reading I had to know what happened next. What really happened that night when Orianna was blamed for killing those two other girls and why Amber was seeing the prison rundown with graffiti all over it. I loved this book and was definitely happy with how it ended. Justice was definitely served! Pick this book up and start reading now! 
MeReaderAtHeart_ More than 1 year ago
I got a copy of this book from the local library soon as it came out. I found the book kind of depressing and confusing, it took me a while to finish reading it. It's a story of 3 girls Amber, an inmate at a Juvenile Detention Center, Violet, a ballet dancer going to Juilliard and Ori, Violet's best friend, who is going to the detention. What really happened on the night that Ori stepped between Violet and her tormentors? This book gives you a realistic view of what it's like being in a detention This is a must read.
COBauer More than 1 year ago
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!
Chancie More than 1 year ago
Slow, slow, slow. The writing is beautiful, and I was interested in the plot, but it unfolds so slowly and repetitively that I couldn't enjoy it.
CherylandMattD More than 1 year ago
While I liked most of this book, I felt the ending was rushed. It was a little hard for me to follow what happened. I even asked my daughters if they understood and they agreed that they had to read it again to understand.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
"We were alive. I remember it that way. We were still alive, and we couldn't make heads or tails of the darkness, so we couldn't see how close we were to the end." Amber is an inmate at the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center. She might have been innocent once but that's a hard quality to hold onto on the inside. Like most of the girls at Aurora Hills, Amber is obsessed with the regrets inherent in choosing one path over the other; with the moment everything goes wrong. Violet, on the other hand, is at the start of a promising ballet career on the outside. Violet has never had much use for co-dependence when her own success and future are at stake. She has a singular focus on the future, on what comes next, on endings. Then there's Orianna. Her story is inextricably linked to both Amber's and Violet's, but it's only in the gaps and overlaps in both of their stories that anyone can begin to understand Ori's. These three girls had lives and dreams and futures on the outside. They have secrets they keep close inside the walls of Aurora Hills and in their own hearts. At some point three girls arrive at Aurora Hills. But only time will tell if all of them get to walk away in The Walls Around Us (2015) by Nova Ren Suma. Every aspect of The Walls Around Us comes together to deliver a story about contrasts in one form or another, something that often comes across in terms of themes like guilt vs. innocence and perception vs. reality. Even the title of the book and the vines on the cover hint at the dichotomy between what is "inside" and "outside" for these characters whose lives are all defined in some way by arriving at the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center as well as by the secrets that they hold close. Subtle characterization and Suma's deliberate writing serve to bring the two narrators, Amber and Violet, to life. Amber's narration is filled with short sentences and staccato declarations. She has spent so long defining herself as part of the whole at Aurora Hills that for much of her narration she describes herself as part of a collective "we"; part of a group comprised of her fellow inmates even when she is usually on the periphery as an observer. Everything about Amber's narration focuses on beginnings and the past. Her chapter titles are always taken from the first words of her chapters. She has an intense and pathological fear of choosing the unknown and having to start again--a motif that is brought to disastrous fruition by the end of the novel. Violent, despite being on the outside, is a harder character with sharper edges. Her narrative is filled with racing thoughts and run-on sentences. Her chapters are all titled for the final words in her chapters. Throughout the novel she returns, again and again, to what her future will hold. Until the end of the novel when her ever-forward momentum is cut abruptly and permanently short. Although she is not a narrator and is most often seen in flashbacks or memories, Orianna is the third pivotal character in the novel. Everything Violet and Amber do within the arc of the book is informed by their relationships to Orianna. If Amber is meant to signify the past in The Walls Around Us and Violet is meant to exemplify the future, it's safe to argue that Orianna is firmly grounded in the present with all of the opportunity and promise that position implies. Suma's lush writing moves readers between the past and the present as the story shifts fluidly between Amber and Violet's mem
Kimmiepoppins More than 1 year ago
WALLS was an intricate and fascinating Mobius Strip of a book. Nova Ren Suma is a unique and brilliant story teller who has the capacity to interweave the most delicate and beautiful plot threads with the ugly and brash. If you want to read something completely unique--this is the book for you. I LOVED it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
=) Kinda confusing but Kerns you intrigued and wanting to keep reading till the end.
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
This book follows two different characters: Violet and Amber. Violet is a ballet dancer whose best friend was Orianna, who was the best dancer at her dancing company. The two of them did a lot together and always made pacts together. On the other hand, Amber is in jail under the terms that she killed her stepfather. She ends up rooming with Orianna in jail. Throughout both of the girl's stories, we get to learn more about this girl named Orianna. Before I go on to tell my thoughts about this book, I thought I'd take a second to recognize the wonderful writing skills that Nova Ren Suma possesses. Her writing is just so lyrical and beautiful! I loved it so much. It definitely made me want to read more by her, so I'll be sure to check out Imaginary Girls. I found this book to be kind of confusing at times, though after finishing it and processing the story for a bit, I feel that it was kind of supposed to be. I don't think that everything was meant to be clear... I think some of it is meant to be up to the reader. At times I had no clue what was going on, though I kept on reading anyway. If you're not someone who can do this, I don't know how much you'd enjoy it! If you're a fan of the show Orange is the New Black, I definitely suggest checking this one out. It definitely had that sort of vibe to it, especially when the story was told through Amber's point of view! I also thought I'd say that I didn't find this story to be predictable at all, which was great. I think I may have to give this one a reread sometime in the future to make sure I understood it all correctly!
Nita More than 1 year ago
*I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review* What an absolutely stunning, beautiful book—and one that I'm sure is going to hold up multiple reads. Suma's writing style is gorgeous and twisted, and this book takes a hard look at the friendships between girls and just how hard this world is for girls, but with a stunning, supernatural twist that's become Suma's style. Nova Ren Suma weaves a chilling, haunting tale of friendship and murder and how cruel life and the justice system is to teenage girls—and how cruel they can be right back. This was an absolutely stunning book, and I can say with confidence that Nova Ren Suma is an instant buy for me.
yaniegama More than 1 year ago
"We liked to talk to failed justice." I watch news every night and all I see is failed justice. Reporters tells us the sides of the victim and suspect then we conclude who is guilty. Sometimes, these victims are either celebrities, politicians and common citizens. Sometimes these suspects are either celebrities, politicians and common citizens. A suspect can be the victim and a victim can be the suspect. We can never tell. But all we do is talk failed justice—how many times it had been treated right or how many times it had been manipulated unfairly? We were told that everyone faces equal treatment, but we know the truth. The Walls Around Us is told by Violet and Amber who were never friends nor saw each other not until Orianna rendered. Violet is a ballet dancer from her place's most well-known ballet school while Amber is locked up away in the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center. These two girls both have the same objective—to live without physical and mental imposed restraints. But Orianna, aware of what these girls are capable of, shake out the truth from their insides. In this phantasmal story of suspense told in two voices, Nova Ren Suma made an exceptional read marked with deliberateness and novelty for every Young Adult reader. “Our private tastes in books showed a hint of our secret selves.” ¿ Nova Ren Suma, The Walls Around Us This should have been a five star rating review but Nova Ren Suma wrote a disturbing story of two girls who have never known each other. I am fascinated with such kind of writing but it afflicted me with anxious uneasiness. As much as I want to give away for me to get to the point, but I can't. It is a must read to those of curious minds. The Walls Around Us is like a narrative poetry book of grief and trouble. I have highlighted the sentences and even paragraphs that is like a snippet of poem. Only that when I read those after I read the book, it send me more understanding as to what Nova Ren Suma is really up to. Written in a beautiful manner yet dark and haunting, The Walls Around Us is deeply engaging read. Advocated for readers allured with poetic style of writing.Source: Netgalley · I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it it was good Jcfhgdsybvxsdghbvcghjvxdftiiknbgfvyhfhfhdxcvfubjjvjshhfhfhshffugdbhhfjhbhdhbdhdhdhfjfijdbfufuhfijfufhfjdjdduehfdhjjwhhhehdfddmdkujxhhhdhfkhsgwhfbdhjsbhgggfdddrjjgfvhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhdhdyehdbdhebchfhfbcbhehfbdbdbdjdsdhdhdufifr....fjfjfkd@kdhdhdysxjju27/%*37$-'- jfjffhfjdkkshdjfkfjdj