London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 286p
I have been very slow about making my way through the Carnegie shortlist this year, but have stepped up my game this half term with The Wall.
Joshua has lived alongside the wall for many years, with a vague awareness of what might be on the other side. One day, he discovers a tunnel that leads to the other side, a forbidden territory for people from his side of the wall. There, he finds terror, violence, and kindness, and his newfound knowledge changes his life forever.
The Wall is a dark, dangerous novel about segregation. Sutcliffe has created a ficitonal world losely based on the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, and he explores the issue of racial prejudice that is ingrained in this and so many other areas.
The journey of discovery that Joshua embarks upon is full of danger and pulls his already fragile family unit apart. Joshua's father passed away in a military incident relating to the wall, and his stepfather is a brute, angry force. Joshua tries to bridge the gap through helping those who showed him kindness, but is simply punished and rebuked by his family. Those on his side of the wall are protected from the dangers and repression, but what he sees when he discovers the tunnel can never be unseen.
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