Joelene Reviews: William Sutcliffe's - "The Wall"


sutcliffe_wallThe wall looms over the people of Amarias through the days and nights. Joshua knows that it is meant to be there to offer them protection from the people on the other side of it – the people who used to live where Amarias is now. The people in Amarias are strange though, and every day his mother becomes more like them and less like the woman that he grew up loving. So when he finds a tunnel leading under the wall, it is a chance to discover for himself whether the people on the other side are as dangerous as the government says.

Lost and afraid in a society different to his own, a girl does him a kindness that will have repercussions for both of them.

Cruel regimes are a pretty big theme in teen fiction right now. In The Wall, dystopia is taken from the realms of sci-fi and fantasy and translated to reality. Rather than reading about an imaginary reality, we are offered a glimpse of a real and current one. One that is partially of our making. The depiction of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here is raw and desperate. Split physically by only a wall, in the minds of both societies, there are so many other barriers between them. Fear and hatred exist on both sides of the wall.

Sutcliffe’s writing style is wonderful. He captures the voice of an inquisitive and intelligent thirteen year old boy perfectly. His ideals, however, are what took me from liking this book to loving this book. Though this isn’t an imaginary world, it does have a similar feel to the dystopian teen fiction books I’ve been reading lately with one important difference. Violence is not fought with violence. Ever. Joshua resists the horrible situation around him with as much courage as any hero I’ve read, but he combats the destruction with construction. He builds a relationship with the people he is meant to hate by nurturing an orchard they once owned. Pouring love into the world, rather than saturating it with more hatred. It’s a strong and essential message to send, that resistance can be non-violent and productive.

In this sort of a story, making an ‘us and them’ dichotomy can be all too easy. Sutcliffe, however, avoids it. There are some truly terrible people on both sides of the wall, and some good ones, and some who are lost and frightened. Opening up dialogue and a willingness to understand each other is shown to be the key to ending the violence and misery that exists in both societies.

Beautifully crafted with amazing and realistic relationships, The Wall is a wonderful read for teens and adults alike. Ultimately uplifting, it’s books like this that create more kindness and understanding in our world.

The Wall – William Sutcliffe

Bloomsbury (April 1, 2013)

ISBN: 9781408838426


  • Krista

    I couldn’t agree with you more! When I picked up this book from the library, I was completely convinced it was going to be a fantasy dystopian but when I finished I read that it is built upon a real place and it made me really analyze human nature and how we treat each other. I was completely moved by the idea of throughout this human struggle is a young boy dealing with several issues himself and learning about who he is, growing into a man and what he believes.

    Great Review!

    • Joelene

      Thanks, Krista! Glad you liked it too. One of the ones that could really be for adults as well as teens, I think.

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