My rating: 5 of 5 stars
On Twitter, this book is being tagged #orangeisthenewblackswan – and that certainly says it all – ballerinas, violence, and prison are all central to The walls around us by Nova Ren Suma. This book explores the lead up to and fallout from a very violent crime in which two ballerinas are murdered by a fellow dancer. That dancer is Violet, one of the narrators of the story, and by the time we meet her, she is successfully completing school and has been accepted to the prestigious Juilliard School to study ballet. The murder has been blamed on her best friend Orianna who is serving time in Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile detention Center.
Although we get to know Orianna very well by what others say about her, we never hear her point of view about what has happened. A second narrator in the novel is Amber, another inmate in the prison. It is from Amber that we witness Orianna enter the prison and her days there.
The plot is quite dark and unusual. It is possibly best described as a psychological thriller but there is a paranormal element to it as well. It is gripping from beginning to end and I had goosebumps throughout. Its hard to write about in a review without giving away spoilers. Needless-to-say, it contains bullying, violence, lies, betrayal, murder, and blood.
Themes raised throughout the book include justice, trust, social class and privilege, and the walls that contain us. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it quite different to most things I have read. I highly recommend it to the girls at school from Year 10 up.