Goodreads’ Book Description:
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.
This novel was so much more than what I expected. I thought it was going to be a mysterious and suspenseful story of murder and betrayal and nothing more. I was so wrong. Along with the murder and betrayal, there’s a glimpse into the supernatural that’s written so fluidly I often had to go back a few pages to truly understand it. To be honest, I still don’t fully understand this novel, but I love that about it. It’s a story that is dark from start to finish with just the right amount of humanity woven in. The suspense teases you just enough so that you feel almost obligated to soak in every detail. Trust me, you’ll want to know all that you can before you find out what really happened between Violet Dumont and Orianna Speerling that night in the smokers’ tunnel behind the stage they once shared.
The word I would use to describe Violet and Orianna’s relationship is interesting. It’s obvious to the reader that these girls were once best friends – closer than sisters – but it’s also obvious that there is something awry. When Orianna is sent to the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center for murder, Violet turns her back on her. She testifies against her in court. She never visits or writes. She continues to pursue her dream of becoming a prima ballerina and scores a spot at Julliard. Yet it’s clear through her narration that she misses Orianna and that the memory of her conviction has haunted her ever since the guilty verdict was read three years ago. Their relationship keeps you guessing right up until their secret is revealed.
And then there’s Amber. Locked away in Aurora Hills long before the murder that sent Orianna there, she is the last remaining link between Violet and Orianna. The story alternates between her and Violet’s points of view, and hers is the one I enjoyed most. Amber gives the novel the supernatural element that sets it apart from other mystery novels. Her recollection of the events that transpired at Aurora Hills before and after Orianna’s arrival will make you go, “Wait, what?” in the best way possible. It’s confusing at times, and a lot is left up to interpretation, but that’s something I really enjoyed. I can see how some people may not, however. This novel will leave you with questions you wish you had definite answers to, and that can be frustrating.
When I wasn’t freaking out about the twists and turns of the murder story, I was appreciating and reflecting on Nova Ren Suma’s beautiful portrayal of the inmates at Aurora Hills and her commentary on the criminal justice system. These parts of the books gave me an “Orange is the New Black” kind of vibe, so if you love that show and its message, you’ll love this aspect of “The Walls Around Us.” I think it’s always good to be reminded that people who have been incarcerated are still human. Some acts are unforgivable, of course, but I think it’s useful to look at the world the way Orianna Speerling does – with your eyes focused on the good that others often can’t see.
If you love a good mystery, this novel is for you. Nova Ren Suma’s beautiful writing will grab you from the first page and won’t let you go until your mouth is hanging open, your eyes are wide, and you’re thinking, “What did I just read?”