By Joshua Ang
Title: The Wall
By William Sutcliffe
Published by Bloomsbury, 2013
No. of Pages: 291
Available at major bookstores
The Wall is a coming of age novel following a 13-year-old boy who lives in Amarias, an insipid fictional town located on the “right” side of the wall. Living in Amarias, he is constantly warned of the enemies and the dangers that await on the other side of the wall.
For the past five years, Joshua has been living without his father, who was killed while completing compulsory military service. In the company of his stepfather and mother, who is now a shadow of her former self, he never truly feels at home.
One day, his friend’s wayward kick sends his football over to a building site. As Joshua looks for his ball, he stumbles upon a tunnel that takes him to the “wrong” side of the wall. Out of child-like curiosity, he decides to crawl through it.
On this side of the wall, he discovers an unfamiliar world that is inhabited by the “enemies” of Amarias, and yet finds solace in the company of a girl who helps him despite not having much herself.
Once he is back home, a sense of doubt starts to set in, as Joshua begins to question everything that he has been told about the “wrong” side of the wall. He wonders if the people living on the other side really are dangerous enemies, or if it is all a concocted lie. Haunted by this paradox and sense of obligation to the girl, he decides to return to the “wrong” side of the wall.
Through the innocence of a 13-year-old boy, the reader is invited into a world that is reflective of what is happening in our world, at the West Bank between Israel and Palestine. With political overtones evident throughout the story, readers who are aware of the political landscape in the West Bank will be able to pick up on cues that suggest Amarias is Israel, and the area on the other side of the wall is Palestine.
To the uninitiated, this book may appear to be about a boy who comes to understand his world. However, the author skillfully navigates through the thorny issue of political strife to produce a story that is filled with great adventure as well as a serious topic to chew on.
Although the book is written for young adults, it can also be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Overall, The Wall is a thought-provoking book that will leave you mulling over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long after you have finished the book.