Bina has never forgotten the time she and her mother ran away from home. Her mother promised they would hitchhike to the city to escape Bina’s cruel father and start over. But before they could even leave town, Bina had a new stepfather and two new stepsisters, and a humming sense of betrayal pulling apart the bond with her mother—a bond Bina thought was unbreakable.
Eight years later, after too many lies and with trouble on her heels, Bina finds herself on the side of the road again, the city of her dreams calling for her. She has an old suitcase, a fresh black eye, and a room waiting for her at Catherine House, a young women’s residence in Greenwich Village with a tragic history, a vow of confidentiality, and dark, magical secrets. There, Bina is drawn to her enigmatic downstairs neighbor Monet, a girl who is equal parts intriguing and dangerous. As Bina’s lease begins to run out, and nightmare and memory get tangled, she will be forced to face the terrible truth of why she’s come to Catherine House and what it will take for her to leave...
About Nova Ren Suma
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.
Find Nova online at novaren.com and on her blog distraction99.com.
“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices--one still living and one long dead. 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 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.
We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture--which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
‘She was coming. She was the next thing to come, after the locks. Once she was here, everything would go wrong. Of that I felt certain.’
Amber is an inmate at Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center who hasn’t seen freedom since the age of thirteen when she was arrested for murder. One night, much like all the rest, something changed though and all the doors of the prison were open and the girls that resided there briefly tasted a freedom that they never thought they’d witness again. Violet is a successful ballet dancer headed to New York City to attend Juilliard. Her story involves her best friend Ori and how after one life altering afternoon, Ori was taken away to Aurora Hills Secure Juvenile Detention Center. Violet, Amber, and Ori are all linked together, intricately, with isolated secrets just waiting to be revealed.
The Walls Around Us is told in alternating points of view by two unreliable narrators: Amber and Violet. Amber is a convicted murderer yet her story of how she got to where she convinces us to see past straight black and white and to the gray that exists in-between. The amount of time she’s spent behind bars has caused her to lose her individuality, taking comfort in seeing herself as a piece of the consolidated unit of girls that share her fate. Violet is a pretentious prima donna; the narcissistic rich girl. Rather than feeling upset over the loss of her best friend three years past she only sees her flawed history with Ori as something that may pose as a deterrent on the road to her pristine future. The voices are vastly different and easy to keep separate, however, the stories of both girls seem they couldn’t possibly fit together. Keeping the facts straight as well as the intersecting timelines that occur can be trying, but the payoff is incredible. This is only my second Nova Ren Suma story and I must say that her stories are something remarkable. She writes characters with such conviction that you quickly lose yourself in classifications of ‘fiction’.
What was most incredible about this book was the realistic view of juvenile delinquency and the discrepancies in the criminal justice system. The harsh reality of discrimination was never more evident when one suspect is immediately excused of guilt while the multi-racial friend is immediately accused without much question. While it would be easy to remain focused on the horrible situation of the innocent victim, I found myself focused on the atrocious sort of person that could stand back and watch a friend be accused of a crime they weren’t responsible for. It should come as no surprise that a story as haunting as this could credibly pull off shades of the supernatural as well. The line between fantasy and reality is muddied turning this story of juvenile delinquency into an eerie story of guilt and innocence. Beautifully written, completely enthralling… I can’t seem to find the words to do this one justice. It’s definitely a must-read.
What if you could know your romantic future? What if an envisionist could enter the name of your prospective mate into a computer that would show you a film of your future life together?
In The Future for Curious People, a young librarian named Evelyn becomes obsessed with this new technology: she can’t stop visiting Dr. Chin’s office because she needs to know that she’ll meet someone and be happy one day. Godfrey, another client, ends up at the envisionist’s office only because his fiancée insisted they know their fate before taking the plunge. But when Godfrey meets Evelyn in the waiting room, true love may be right in front of them, but they are too preoccupied—and too burdened by their pasts—to recognize it.
This smart, fresh love story, with its quirky twists and turns, ponders life’s big questions—about happiness, fate, and our very existence—as it follows Evelyn and Godfrey’s quest for the elusive answers.
“Most people choose their futures by accident. They don’t even know they’re making choices. They don’t even know that there are forks in the road – much less forks within forks. The future no longer has to be messy. It can be tested out. It can be known.”
In an alternate yet still contemporary Baltimore, there is a flourishing market of Envisionists: doctors that are trained to show people a small glimpse of their future. A cup of pills, a virtual reality helmet and a name of a person gives you the ability to what your future would look like in a relationship with that given person. And with a discount package (Five visits for the price of three!) you can catch a glimpse of multiple futures with multiple different individuals. The Future for Curious People centers around two individuals: Evelyn and Godfrey.
Evenlyn Shriner is a librarian who is most likely addicted to envisioning (she’s had five sessions in the past two weeks). She’s just broken up with her boyfriend of almost two years after their envisioning session showed them singing Happy Birthday (in Spanish, no less) to a chihuahua and arguing about cheese. Godfrey Burkes works a dead-end job at a place called The Department of Unclaimed Goods and has just proposed to his overbearing girlfriend. Her stipulation before saying yes is for them both to go to an envisionist, just to make sure they’re right for each other. At Dr. Chin, the envisionist who’s office smells like Chinese takeout and incense is where Evelyn and Godfrey meet. The two decide to envision each other on a whim and both glimpse a future close to perfection. The end result is predictable even without an envisionist but the between pages are still a delight.
This story is chock-full of witty dialogue and oh so clever characters but comes off occasionally audacious when it tries to also incorporate more serious topics. For the most part, though, it still worked. The Future for Curious People is at heart nothing but a quirky romance but will have more of an effect on readers that can’t help but wonder about the present, if it’s always going to be this way and how differently the future could be. It certainly brings to light an idea to ponder: If you could have a glimpse of your future on the current path you’re on, would you want to see it?
“Comic and exuberant . . . A fine and tender tale for anyone who has tried to let go of the past and envision the future while falling in love.” —Rhonda Riley, author of The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope
Meet Evelyn and Godfrey. Evelyn is breaking up with her boyfriend, who’s passing out advertisements for his band on a snowy street corner in Baltimore. She’s seen their dismal future together at Dr. Chin’s office--she and her boyfriend, both many years older, singing “Happy Birthday” to a Chihuahua and arguing about cheese. She hopes for more. Meanwhile, Godfrey is proposing to his girlfriend, Madge, who’s not quite willing to take that leap; she wants to see their future together first--just to be sure they’re meant for each other. The Future for Curious People follows Evelyn and Godfrey’s soon-to-be-entwined lives, set in motion by the fabulist premise of a world with envisionists like Dr. Chin. As the characters struggle with their pasts and possible futures, they wrestle with sorrow, love, death, and fate.
A novel that will capture you with its wit, its hopefulness, its anxious twists and turns, this love story is ultimately about finding happiness and accepting our fleeting existence.
What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a link to your post and I’ll be sure to stop by!