The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

“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 the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there's Amber, locked up for so long she can't imagine freedom.

Tying their 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?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.”

Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us left me asking one question: how could one person dream up such a dark, twisted, and disturbing story. TWAU is a supernatural thriller if ever I’ve read a supernatural thriller, and, believe me, I have. Rarely, though, have I been so utterly blindsided by a story. I did not, in even the most remote way, see this ending coming. I mean, wow. It has been a full week since I’ve read this book and I’m still gushing about it.

I think the trick here is that Suma showed all of her cards. She didn’t hold anything back until the last minute, banking on the fact that the reader wouldn’t have all of the information to put the pieces together. No, she laid it all out, in an admittedly non-linear way, but we still had all of the pieces. I like to flatter myself by thinking that perhaps if I had put down the book for a few minutes and thought up a few theories that I would have figured out how the book was going to end, but if I’m being honest with myself, I still wouldn’t have gotten it right.

However, in full disclosure, I wasn’t completely sold on the story. Did it surprise me? Yes. Did it get my blood pumping? Yes. But did it do both of those things without venturing into the territory of “Wait, what the heck just happened? How? Why? This doesn’t make any sense!”? No.

Suma’s writing was breathtaking on almost every page. Her imagery felt unique, but at the same time, I couldn’t imagine the image being described in any other way. The three main characters were vivid and original, and I didn’t prefer one particular storyline over another. Her lyrical prose propelled me through the book, even when I wasn’t entirely sure how the three different story lines of the girls were going to match up. However, the ending proved to be a bit of a roadblock.

Do you know the saying, “You make a better door than you do a window?” My mom used to say that to me when I’d stand in front of the television and block her view. That’s how I felt about this ending. The poetic prose mixed with, arguably, one of the only true supernatural scenes in the book proved to be more of a hindrance to the story than a help. The supernatural goings on in the last chapter or two were never crystal clear to me, and I still only have a vague idea of what happened and how.

Overall, this is a book I would hugely recommend to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries, supernatural fiction, or movies like “Shutter Island”. It was a relatively fast read and the beautiful story is worth the slight confusion the ending may cause. After seeing what Nova Ren Suma’s imagination can create, I’m thinking I’ll have to pick up one of her other books soon.

Let me know if you plan to read this book and what you think about it once you have!

Happy Reading,

Mallory