Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Anna is more than shy. She is nearly invisible. At seven, terrified of school, Anna retreats within the walls of her family’s enormous house, and builds a world of passageways and hidden rooms. As the years go by, people forget she ever existed. Then a mysterious note is thrust through a crack in the wall, and Anna must decide whether or not to come out of hiding. Patrice Kindl’s astounding, inventive novel blends fantasy and reality — and readers will not forget it. “Thoroughly convincing and deeply moving. Whether we read the story as an allegory, an elaborate metaphor, even a bittersweet dream, the feelings and insights are precise and real, enhanced all the more by a wonderfully wry and rueful humor.” — Lloyd Alexander, Newbery Medal-winning author of The High King ” Kindl creates an original world with authority and complete credibility. Her austere yet insistent, grave yet humorous style is perfect.”– The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
Odd metaphorical story of young adulthood
This was an odd little book! A young adult story whose synopsis made me curious enough to not only add it to my to-read list, but also to select it as one of my picks for book club. It’s a quick read, but one that has left me scratching my head.
The Woman in the Wall is the story of Anna, the middle child of three daughters. Anna is quiet and shy; so much so that her mother and sisters almost never see her – literally. She describes herself as having, “a face like a glass of water,” and is the narrator of her story.
Anna’s father was very much like her and has been missing and declared dead. He was last seen at his job at the Library of Congress. In his absence, Anna has taught herself how to use the numerous tools her father left behind. She takes on the upkeep, maintenance, and repair of the very large Victorian house she, her sisters, and mother live in. Anna also bakes and sews clothing for the family, staying exclusively in and at home.
While Anna is content to go on as she has, her mother has other plans. A confusing and troubling sequence of events follows, ultimately driving Anna into the walls of the house. She describes how she shaves narrow passages and small rooms just behind the walls – all while her extraordinarily unobservant family lives around her.
Even now, in summarizing Anna’s story, my interest is piqued. But there is just something that doesn’t quite pull off the plot. Anna, to me at least, has few redeeming qualities, making it hard to befriend or like her. Furthermore, the reaction of her mother and sisters to Anna’s disappearance is so unbelievable as to really shred any suspension of disbelief. Anna is, at times, naive to the point of dim-wittedness, which doesn’t really endear her to readers. And the story seems to speed toward an ending that feels rushed and unresolved.
Perhaps my hopes were too high for The Woman in the Wall. It isn’t bad, just . . . okay.