Stella’s Letter-Essay #3: Walls Within Walls

Dear Reader,

I have just finished the novel Walls Within Walls written by the youngest Managing Director at Bear Stearns and Cornell graduate, Maureen Sherry. She is well known for her book, Opening Belle, a national bestseller, and Walls Within Walls was given many awards from the states of Texas and Connecticut. Also, Maureen Sherry’s bestseller Opening Belle will be recreated as a movie in the near future. Kirkus Reviews states this novel is “Natural and Engaging.” and that, “The plot is well placed and completely believable,” The reason I read this book was because I saw it in the awards section of the Library/Learning Commons and it was recommended by a fellow student when I was in the library.

This novel is about the Smithfork children who move into an old, but remodeled, apartment on Manhattan’s fifth avenue. The children begin their adventures when they were simply playing around in their new apartment, when their legos crashed to the ground. As Brid slowly looked upwards, a giant eye with small misplaced letters stared right at her. CJ, Brid, and Patrick were all determined to find out who put that strange painting there and the story behind it. Throughout their mystery-filled escapade, they explore their apartment building and the streets of New York, searching for the treasure left by the buildings true owner, Mr. Post. The children make friends, and enemies, as well as cause lots of trouble in order to find the treasure.

The main character, CJ, has a lot of courage. I realized that throughout the novel, CJ’s personality seems to flourish as the mysteries get harder and harder to understand. CJ always sticks to his gut and leads his siblings and friends to the finish on their journey. I believe Maureen Sherry knew when she was writing this book that a strong-headed main character was needed to keep the story interesting, because without CJ always sticking with his gut, the mystery would probably not have been solved.

If I were the author, I would have included pictures or more examples of the clues that the characters were given in the book. I would do this because as a reader, I want to feel more involved in the book, especially mystery stories where the reader most likely wants to infer what is going to happen. Maureen Sherry already did a good job by showing many of the poem clues, but I also think visuals would give another perspective to help envision the story better.

I was very surprised when Maureen Sherry wrote, “Joe Torrio-Julian Post-rose from his seat and went over to Eloise.” I feel that at this part, most of Mr. Torrio’s strange actions had an excuse, and everything fell into place. To be honest, as I was reading this line in the novel, I had to close the book for a second and rethink the story to fit in this information. I liked how she fit that into the story to subtly, but it gave just the right amount of impact on the reader that made them want to read more.

One passage that I enjoyed reading was when Pat was pushing down the symbols in the wall and the author wrote, “CJ could just about reach the thing Pat was holding over his head, but he grasped it, and gingerly pulled it through the grille opening. It was a package.” (pg. 315) This is a strange part of the book to choose as my favorite, but I have reasoning behind it. At this part of the novel, I think that Maureen Sherry wants the reader to think the book is about to end, but this is just the start of the best parts of the book. When the wall opened up and revealed a package, I knew that the mystery was going to continue, and not just finish right there. This really made me need to read more, and I was definitely satisfied by the end of the story. Unlike a lot of books I read that just end quickly without solving every problem, this novel closes all the doors it opened, metaphorically, and gave a clear, strong ending to the book. This shows that the author is experienced and knows what her readers want.

I would rate this book a 5/10, but it’s not a bad book. I enjoyed reading it and I really hope someday it is turned into a movie. But, it’s also not the best book I have ever read in my entire life, so I had to put it somewhere in the middle. Thanks for reading and I recommend this book to all readers.


Stella Mirwald


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About rcjockers

I am a middle-school language arts teacher in Connecticut. I like eating hot peppers from my garden, writing, and watching German soccer matches in the dark.

2 thoughts on “Stella’s Letter-Essay #3: Walls Within Walls

  1. Great Job Stella I liked how you told us why you felt in that part when you closed the book it told us how you were trying to think of what was happening and that is a good strategy for looking close into the text because you are thinking about what you just read.

  2. Dear Stella,

    I really enjoyed reading your letter essay. I also read this book and liked it just as much as you did. I like how you said that the author should include some sot of illustrations in the book. I completely agree!

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