Wednesday, 18 June 2014

‘The Wall’ - William Sutcliffe - Carnegie Review 2014

When Josh loses his football and heads off down a tunnel to try to retrieve it he emerges in what seems to be a different world.

But the world Josh has entered is no fantasy world – it’s subtly done so that the place Josh has entered is not mentioned by name until the story is well underway. But Josh lives in Amarias, an Israeli settlement in the West bank behind the 'Separation Fence' ('The Wall') and the tunnel takes him into the world of the Palestinians.

It’s a dangerous place, but Josh is intrigued by it and drawn to it, wanting to discover more, in the way boys approaching manhood will start to want to leave domestic safety and explore the big wide world.

Every time he comes back he learns a little more about the lives of people who live so close to him and yet so apart, yet puts himself in danger.

He starts a chain of events that threaten lives on both sides of the fence, but might just get him killed. It’s a fast-paced exciting story, but not without the introspection that allows Josh to work out that the situation is not at all as it had been told to him.

‘The Wall’ was published in both adult and children’s editions and is both an adventure novel and a coming of age story where a boy begins to see the world around him with fresh eyes and all its moral uncertainties. The difficulty he faces is trying not to simply repeat the behaviour of parents – to be part of the generation who stops the war and who makes a difference.

It is surprising, intelligent, heartbreaking, and beautifully told. I was completely blown away by this brilliantly told coming-of-age tale which will leave you with shredded nails but hope in your heart.

We asked William Sutcliffe what was his favourite thing about his shortlisted book: 'My favourite thing about “The Wall” is that it is designed to work as a political novel for adults about a real place, while also making sense for teenage readers as a dystopian novel in a setting that could be entirely fictional.'

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