The Wall by William Sutcliffe
13-year-old Joshua lives in Amarias, an isolated hilltop town composed of newly built identical houses with well mowed lawns and sparkling pools, all surrounded by an enormous wall. Despite his father's death while serving in the military, Joshua lives a normal life, attending school, hanging out with friends, and fighting with his restrictive stepfather. The wall's presence always looms in the background, but Joshua doesn't think much about it or the omnipresence of heavily armed guards. As for those on the other side, Joshua believed what he had been told: they are savage and inhuman and the wall keeps him safe.
One day while chasing a lost ball Joshua discovers a tunnel leading to the other side of the wall. Knowing he won't get another chance to see what is beyond the wall until he joins the military, he gives into temptation and crawls through. On the other side he meets Leila who saves his life, leading him down a path of experiences that he must keep secret--or face severe consequences.
The Wall is a coming-of-age story full of suspense and symbolism that will speak to young and older readers alike.
The author of several children's books, William Sutcliffe deftly avoids direct political commentary, but compellingly describes the feeling of living in a dystopian "Occupied Zone" where the "aftertaste of violence" hangs in the air ("Israel" and "Palestine" are never mentioned). When Joshua returns to Amarias, he brings with him the despair for the people suffering in the shadow of the wall and a sense that something must be done to end their demonization and forced segregation. Joshua's struggle is powerful, realistic, and beautifully written.