Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: "The Walls Around Us" by Nova Ren Suma

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Violet ("Vee") has wanted to be a prima ballerina for as long as she can remember. And as a girl from a wealthy family, she can dream whatever she wants to and achieve her dreams. When she meets Ori, whose family life is less than stable but whose talent is greater, Ori becomes Vee's strongest advocate and biggest fan, protecting her from self-doubt and those who seek to tear her down. But as they find themselves in the midst of their teenage years, and Ori's talent begins to shine brighter than Vee's, their friendship is tested. And when Ori is accused of an act of unspeakable violence, their once-unbreakable bond is destroyed.

Amber has been locked up in the Aurora Hills juvenile detention facility for as long as she can remember. Sentenced at age 13 for allegedly murdering her abusive stepfather, she has become all too expert at navigating the tricky culture of Aurora Hills, knowing the people she can talk to, the places she can go, the questions she can ask of her fellow inmates, and the way she must behave to pass the time. The facility is rocked one night by a mysterious power outage, which harms the delicate balance Amber has been able to maintain and threatens her relationships. It also leads to her getting a new cellmate—Ori—and the two lonely girls form an unlikely bond.

The Walls Around Us is part a story about living with loneliness, betrayal, and guilt. It's a story about the power of friendship and how even the strongest relationships can be shattered by lies. Nova Ren Suma's writing is absolutely beautiful, lyrical and almost poetic at times. You think you know what might happen but you're utterly unprepared for what does, particularly because the book has some supernatural, ghost story-esque elements as well. It's a tremendously interesting twist on a not-quite-typical story which has aspects of teenage angst as well.

I have never read anything that Nova Ren Suma has written before, but I was blown away by her storytelling ability. I'll admit the way the book concluded confused me a bit because I'm not 100 percent certain what happened with one character, but I still thought this was a tremendously unique and compelling book. I'll definitely need to check out some of her previous books.

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