ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published June 4, 2013. Walker Books (Bloomsbury).
As I read, I felt this book had a similar feel to “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” as 13 year old Joshua finds out there are people in his world who don’t have the same privileges he enjoys.
Five years after Joshua’s father is killed during his mandated time as a soldier, his mother remarries and they relocate to a house near The Zone. The Zone is a neighborhood that overlooks a large wall, manned by soldiers, barbed wire and checkpoints. Joshua always thought his neighborhood was boring and full of “sameness,” hates his stepfather and resents his mother, but never really thought anything was earth shatteringly wrong. The day he found a secret tunnel that led under The Wall changed his life forever.
When he crossed through the tunnel, Joshua found out the other side of The Wall was made up of people forced to face poverty, starvation, chaos, and armed soldiers. At first it seemed like a great adventure but, when he was almost beaten up by a gang of thugs and saved by a beautiful half starved young girl, he was overwhelmed by how much he didn’t know about both worlds separated by The Wall.
Safely on his side of The Wall, Joshua is overcome by guilt realizing those living on the other side of The Wall can’t own land, can’t go through The Checkpoint as easily as he can, can’t get enough to eat, and are in constant fear of their lives. Each side believes the other is wrong, and both sides believe violence is the only way to get what they want – ownership of the land.
Joshua wants to make a difference, especially for the family of Leila the girl who saved his life, but finds his stepfather and circumstances won’t allow change to be made. Unfortunately, Joshua learns more than he’d ever hoped to learn about people on both sides of The Wall.
Without naming names, the author draws parallels with Joshua’s story and what is happening in Israel’s West Bank with the land fight between Israel and the Palestinians. “The Wall” is realistically chilling, and will cause mature readers 13 and older to really think about what’s going on in the world around us.