Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Nya is a young Nuer girl who spends most of her day fetching and carrying water to her home from a muddy pond. She lives in the Sudan, where for five months of the year the pond that her family relies upon dries up. Three days away is a lake that is also dry; but with a lot of digging and waiting Nya can collect enough muddy water to take to her family.
Salva Dut is a boy whose story takes place twenty-three years before the story of Nya, during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Salva is separated from his parents during an attack by government forces. He flees from his school to begin a long trek across the Sudan, to refugee camps in Ethiopia and later Kenya. Salva endures the privations and dangers of refugee life, and must also avoid people of the Nuer tribe, for Salva is a Dinka, and the Dinka and the Nuer have been enemies for centuries.
Linda Sue Park's novel A Long Walk to Water is based on the lives of two real Sudanese people. The book switches viewpoints between the two stories, which eventually intersect in an unexpected way. Although the book is written for junior level readers, I found it exciting enough to keep my interest.
Salva Dut is one of the famous Lost Boys of Sudan; you can learn more about his fascinating and heartbreaking story here. A Long Walk to Water opens a window into a world few of us know.