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 the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other. – Goodreads
My love of Nova Ren Suma is well-documented. I’ve read all of her YA novels, and I have loved them all equally. I think the thing about Suma is that you either love her writing style or you don’t, you either love an unreliable narrator or you don’t, you either love being led down a misleading path that shrouds the truth in shadow or, you know, you don’t. It’s polarizing. But Suma’s characters are always introspective and unreliable; the fun part is figuring out what is it they’re covering up. I noticed that they rarely outright lie. They just speak in circles or leave things out.
I’ve read that some reviewers think the summary gives too much away, but I don’t agree. It’s hard to give too much away about a Suma novel, because there’s so much there. This is a novel about Orianna Speerling, told through the eyes of two girls who knew her in very different circumstances: Amber Smith, teen juvenile accused of murder, and Violet Dumont, teen ballerina headed soon to Juilliard. Beyond that, everything is a mystery, and all you know is what you’re told.
A book like this is hard to review because you want to turn it into a recap. Here’s what happened to Amber on that weird night, here’s how Violet feels about her first encounter with that football player, here’s what happened to make them both the way they are. And I think that’s a disservice to the story, to the experience of watching it unfold, to the magic of wondering what will come next, what happened next, how it will end. Suma has a great writing style, not too much description, not too much dialogue, just the view of the world from inside the narrators’ heads, however misleading that view might be. The best part about a Suma novel is even if you think you have it all figured out, you don’t. Or if you do, there will always be a twist to throw you off, sometimes right at the end.
I loved this one, as I expected to. It’s a quintessential Nova Ren Suma novel, and I mean that in the best and most complimentary of ways.