The Wall

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​Sutcliffe himself uses Orwell’s Animal Farm as a way of explaining how this, his first novel for young adults, works on two levels. As a coming of age story, set in a dystopian society where mistrust, hatred and violence divide people from each other and from the land they used to tend, it is a thrilling and moving adventure, exploring questions about family loyalty, first love, the meaning of ‘freedom’, and what we owe to each other as human beings. Readers with a little more awareness of the occupation of the West Bank will realise that the young protagonist’s hometown ‘Amarias’, whilst fictional, is based on the harsh reality of life in that troubled place – and whilst this understanding certainly isn’t essential in order to experience The Wall as a powerful and thought-provoking read, it adds an extra layer of urgent poignancy that resonates long after the final page has been turned. There’s a useful reading guide too, with discussion points and activity ideas, which can be downloaded at