Thursday, January 08, 2015

A Long Walk to Water Both Harrowing and Hopeful

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

The Lost Boys of Sudan were often in the news during the civil war that took place in that region from about 1983 to 2002.  Their plights captured the attention of Americans (like myself) who simply could not imagine how these children managed to survive so much violence and bloodshed in such a parched, unforgiving landscape.  After hearing the story of Salva Dut, a real Lost Boy, Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park decided his experience needed to be shared.  A Long Walk to Water is the memorable, based-on-a-true-story result.   

The book focuses on two 11-year-old children, whose tales take place almost 20 years apart—Salva and a fictional girl named Nya.  Nya (in 1985) is a poor girl from the Nuer tribe, whose household chores involve fetching water for her family from a faraway pond.  Every day, she walks to the source, fills a container with the life-sustaining liquid, and trudges back home balancing the full bucket on her head.  She empties it into jars, then repeats the journey.  Nya spends all day, every day, walking to and from the pond.  Salva (in 2008) is the son of a village judge.  When he's not in school, he helps his father take care of the family's cattle.  He's a member of the Dinka tribe, enemies of the Nuers.  When rebel fighters burst into his school with guns, Salva hides in the bush.  Thus begins his long, terrifying march through Sudan, Ethiopia, and eventually to safety at a refugee camp in Kenya.

A Long Walk to Water is a slim, spare novel.  Nonetheless, it tells a vivid, moving tale that manages to be both harrowing and hopeful.  Salva's courage and resilience are testaments to the power of human beings to overcome even the most desperate of circumstances.  The fact that he gives back so powerfully (see Water for South Sudan: Drilling Holes, Transforming Lives) proves that love really does conquer all.  His is a powerful, important story that will open eyes and touch hearts.  I highly recommend the read.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence and intense situations

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of A Long Walk to Water with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.  

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