The Girl in the Wall. Daphne Benedis-Grab. Merit Press. YA Fiction. December 2012. 272 pp. pbk. ISBN # 9781440552700.
Sera made a difficult choice to save a life by telling the truth. Now she’s paying for it day after day after day. Her peers at school are treating her like “pariah of the year.” Now her family is insisting she attend the birthday party of her ex-friend, Ariel. It’s all very uncomfortable until rock star Hudson Winters (real name Hunter Winters) begins to croon a song Sera loves. The mesmerizing effect of his singing is cut short by the burst of gunfire and then the hell begins!
Two people are died and a group of killers is holding the rest of the party attendees temporarily until they realize the person they really wanted to kill, Ariel, is missing. So begins an awful night of threats, murders, fire, and more while Ariel is hidden in the walls of her home. It’s a place where Sera and she hung out and played when they were much younger. But now Sera has to make a choice to betray Ariel again or prove her loyalty. The cost of either is huge!
As the night progresses, the remaining youths know there will be no help until well into the next day. They, therefore, begin to plan on how to attack the killers and at the same time gradually discover who is behind this insane, cold-blooded attack and why. It’s NOT a pretty picture, no matter how one sees the choices and possible outcomes.
During this night Sera discovers that Hudson (Hunter) is a regular guy with his own sad story. It’s his strength and ideas that help Sera tolerate the intense pressure and plan for a different alternative to the end they all expect. At the same time, Ariel has the time while in hiding to think about who are her true friends and make a decision that might just save her own life.
The Girl in the Wall punches the reader with its very real brutality and poignancy. The author knows well how to increase the tension but also make it something compassionate and moving, not just another made for TV drama. Superbly done, Daphne Benedis-Grab! YA readers will love this novel, for sure!