The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma: Flash Booktalk


“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.”

One girl, alive and free. One girl, dead and locked up. It’s their story to tell, about two dead girls, about 42 dead girls, and about Ori, the only girl who knows the whole story.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers


All the Rage. Rage. Rage is the key concept here, because reading this will fill you with rage at the way our culture victimizes girls over and over. Writing about rape, rape culture, and the ways that society claims power over women’s bodies is hard territory and Courtney Summers is not only up to the task, but if you’ve read her work before you know that she doesn’t pull any punches.

Summers is so skilled in crafting Romy’s story and sharing her struggles with the reader that the story does the teaching and Summers respects teen readers enough to know they can connect the dots. That aspect alone is worthy of my recommendation, but there is more.

All of the major players including Romy’s parents, classmates, and co-workers feel like actual, believable people. Even with Brock, who is despicable, and Tina, who is toxic, we are given glimpses of why they’ve become that way. That level of detail not only enhances the harsh reality of Romy’s situation, but reminds us that our culture makes people like that and allows it to continue.

Readers who have been close to a pregnancy will appreciate the subplot that hints at the loss of control women feel  and have over their bodies during that time as well.

This is a hand sell book for sure, if only to help readers who would be triggered by it steer clear if they wish.  However, juniors and seniors who loved Speak as younger teens will find this the next step in understanding the challenges of being a girl in our culture.

Some Reading Recommendations

Longer reviews don’t always happen, and to be honest they aren’t worth the tiny number of readers they get. Instead, you’ll see more posts like this one, sharing books I love and more Flash Booktalks.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The highest compliment I can give a book is that I know the more times I read it the more I’ll love it and I’ll Give You the Sun is that kind of book.  I had both a very emotional reaction to this book, where I didn’t start another book for a day or two because I was so full of this one and could also completely understand why it won the Printz.  If you’ve been putting this one off it’s time to dig in.


The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

The Boy in the Black Suit handles the tough subjects of grief and loss with style.  Matt’s character and the authentic urban setting are bound to resonate with teen readers who don’t see themselves in enough books.  Reynolds superpower as an author just might be knowing  exactly how to talk to his readers and make them think without talking down to them. If you’re looking for an author to give fans of Walter Dean Myers this is it.


The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

I always find myself questioning what I love more about Nova Ren Suma’s books: the beautiful sentence level writing and use of language, or that there is just nothing else like them. The Walls Around Us is her strongest work yet and I’ll be recommending it widely.


All of the Above by I.W. Gregorio 

It’s a great gift to find a fiction book that manages to educate without the reader feeling lectured to, and None of the Above is as entertaining as it is important. The author does a great job of letting the reader learn about AIS and intersex as a condition along with Kristin, so we are able to understand both the physical and mental effect Kristin’s diagnoses has both on her and the people closest to her. The characters and their reactions were realistic and the story never seemed to drag. I’m looking forward to booktalking this one and I believe that teens are going to respond enthusiastically.

Grown-Up Books

Now, for adult readers who enjoy m/m romances I have three titles to recommend. Since I hardly ever recommend grown-up books I feel the need to warn you there is sex in these books, so if that’s not your thing as a reader just grab one of the above titles instead.

forever manboneschef

Forever Man by A.J. DeWall

The Bones of You by Laura Stone

Chef’s Table by Lynn Charles