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The Wall Hardcover – June 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 17 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802734928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802734921
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,181,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thirteen-year old Joshua's circumscribed life in the newly developed and carefully guarded town of Amarias changes when a search for his soccer ball takes him over The Wall. This barrier separates his people from those on the other side, who are, according to his stepfather, "Terrorists! People who want to kill us!" Joshua's discovery of a bulldozed house, a tunnel, and a town so different from his-both in its liveliness and its poverty-along with an act of friendship from a supposed enemy challenge this perspective. Narrating in first-person present tense, Joshua shares his internal struggles and corresponding actions as his growing awareness of contrasting social realities awaken him to a world of nuance, political complexity, and ethical dilemmas. For example, a request from his new friends to water their orchard on his side of The Wall leads Joshua to defy parental limits and government strictures. Throughout this riveting story, which parallels the conflict on Israel's West Bank, adult author Sutcliffe conveys a sense of the moral imperative to bear witness and risk failure in pursuit of justice. Ages 12-up. Agent: Felicity Rubinstein, Lutyens & Rubinstein.

From School Library Journal

Gr 7-10–Drawing from the military and cultural tensions in the West Bank, this is a deeply moving tale about a boy whose life dramatically shifts once he realizes the truth about where he lives. Thirteen-year-old Joshua lives with his mother and stepfather in Amarias, a heavily guarded town with a high wall meant to keep out the militants who presumably live on the other side. While searching for an errant soccer ball, he comes across a tunnel leading underneath the Wall. Realizing that he won't get a glimpse of what lies beyond it until his military conscription in a few years, the curious teen crawls toward the unknown. Upon emerging, Joshua is chased by boys who are intent on harming him. Risking her own life, Leila offers Joshua refuge in her home and later leads him safely back to the tunnel. From this point on, the novel takes on a decidedly existential tone; Joshua is crippled with guilt over his inability to help Leila overcome her many hardships. He also struggles to reconcile his parents' firmly held ideas about the “militants” with the girl who saved him. Joshua's feelings lead him to make several well-meaning choices that do more harm than good for Leila and her family. His tenuous relationship with his stepfather worsens, culminating in a terrifying standoff. Through brilliant pacing and a relatable protagonist, Sutcliffe sensitively portrays the brutal realities of military occupation. For those wishing to understand more about the West Bank, there is a helpful author's note with suggested readings. Recommend with Elizabeth Laird's A Little Piece of Ground (Haymarket, 2006) and Michael Morpurgo's Shadow (Feiwel & Friends, 2012) to readers interested in learning more about conflicts in the Middle East.–Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The story is fast paced...exciting...thought provoking and very enlightening.
DRACU PERIAN
Throughout the book, his courage is astonishing (as is his endurance of pain: the book is intensely physical, as well as intensely visual).
Ralph Blumenau
I loved the story as a whole, but I did find some sections of the narrative slow down a bit.
Nikky Dey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Hoffman on June 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Sutcliffe's novel does the unthinkable: it humanizes the Palestinians, in a work of fiction intended for adolescents. Never preachy, it shows an Israeli Judaic youth encountering the misery on the other side of the apartheid wall that the Israelis constructed to keep the goyim out of the lands which the Israeli war machine captured and occupied.

"The Wall" is good for both nations. It holds up a mirror to the Israelis to help them understand better the effects of the subjugation of their neighbors the Palestinians, while the latter are shown to be humans with souls, whose suffering and collective punishment are real, and deserving of immediate alleviation.

Given the censorship power of the Israeli lobby, I wonder how many American librarians will purchase this book for their school or public library? Let us pray, for the sake of peace, that librarians will do the right thing and defy the censors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau on January 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
What can I see about this marvellous book that does not give too much of the plot away? Only that the narrator, Joshua, a thirteen year old Israeli boy, comes upon a tunnel under the separation wall between Amarias, the new settlement town in which he lives, and the Palestinian town on the other side. Though scared, his determination to explore gains the upper hand. Throughout the book, his courage is astonishing (as is his endurance of pain: the book is intensely physical, as well as intensely visual). On two separate occasions he crosses in the tunnel to the other side. Each time the encounters he has there are terrifying and might have been fatal, but he is saved on the first occasion by an Arab girl and on the second by her father. Back on his own side of the Wall, he feels an overwhelming sense of obligation and commitment to them. I must not divulge what that commitment makes him do, other than to say that it is deeply moving and poetic - there is a passage that moved me to tears. He has to do this in secret: the settlers in Amarias are fearfully, virulently and militantly anti-Arab, and they include his hated step-father (who reciprocates his enmity). Some of the confrontations between the two of them are frightening. Joshua will return from a third and even more hazardous crossing of the Wall.

He had spent the first nine years of his life in Israel proper, and had always hated living in the Occupied Zone into which his step-father had moved the family. Not long after Joshua returns from his third venture beyond the Wall, he and his mother return to Israel proper; but as he reflects on what he has experienced, it is not only on his two Arab friends that his thoughts focus, but on the wider issue. Amarias had always felt to him "like a huge lie, but this place [i.e.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Joshua discovered the secret tunnel quite by chance. It seemed ominous, but how could he pass up a new adventure? Little does he know that by following the tunnel to the other side of the wall, his 13-year-old life will be forever changed. There is no unseeing what has once been seen.

On the other side of the wall, less than a mile away from where Joshua lives with his mother and despised stepfather in Amarias, Joshua finds a drastically different, impoverished world. Here he meets Leila, who saves his life. He tries to return the favor to her but ends up making things worse and bringing severe harm to her father.

Throughout THE WALL, Joshua struggles to help Leila's family and repay the debt he feels towards them, all the while defying his mother, stepfather and everyone else in Amarias who sees those on the other side as the enemy. One way Joshua can help is by tending Leila's family olive grove, which is located on "his side" of the wall. And so he gives up hanging out with his friends and playing soccer to dedicate himself to caring for the 100-year-old trees. Here amidst the trees and dirt he finds peace and purpose, at least for the moment. As he nurtures these trees back to health, he feels connected to the family and to past generations who have planted and tended these same trees.

But the peace does not last. How can he live at ease with his comfortable lifestyle while those nearby suffer? He must do something more.

The reader follows Joshua who does not understand the complexities of the political situation at hand, but instead is guided by a humanist compassion for the lives at stake.

THE WALL is exciting, insightful and inspiring. It takes place in a setting highly similar to that of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
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By Elsa Marston on February 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this gripping story, the author has set two unusual challenges for himself. The location is unidentified, although immediately recognizable as the West Bank, Palestine; and the viewpoint is decidedly in favor of the Palestinians--but expressed by someone who should be an adversary. The first decision seems an unnecessary complication, but the second provides the dramatic conflict throughout the book.

Although this review focuses on questions and criticisms, I definitely recommend THE WALL. It provides a view of the mentalities of two neighboring but antagonistic societies, particularly of the settlers living on usurped land. While the people whose land they have taken understandably resent them but can take little action, the settlers are obsessed by the official dogma that they are under mortal threat from barbarous enemies. Mr. Sutcliffe has done well to highlight the intractable problems posed by the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The plot line, briefly: Joshua is an Israeli boy living in the settlement and unhappy at home because of conflict with his brutal stepfather. He discovers a tunnel under the high "separation wall" that his government has built between the two communities. Exploring the tunnel, he emerges in the Palestinian village, runs into trouble, and is helped by a Palestinian girl. Feeling indebted to her, he goes back--and finds himself agreeing to care for her family's olive trees. His actions are discovered, but Joshua makes one more attempt to reach the family, which leads to a final crisis and a life-changing decision.

The dynamics of this dysfunctional settler family are compelling.
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