Thursday, February 9, 2012
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park
Author: Linda Sue Park
Reading Level: Ages 10 and up
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 15, 2010
A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is a two hours' walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond ever day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor and his story goes on to interest with Nya's in an astonishing and moving way.
This semester of college, I decided to join a book club class. The description made it sound super awesome and we're going to read all sorts of new and exciting books, yada yada yada. So when I got to class and the teacher started talking and explaining that we were reading kids books from Africa or the Middle East and other places like that, I kind of deflated. I didn't think children's books were very exciting. Boy was I proven wrong.
This book was so heartbreaking, uplifting, touching, horrifying, every emotion ever. Salva is a young boy growing up with war all around him. One day at school, soldiers come in and Salva has to run away from everything he knows. For years, he's walking across deserts, living in horrible refugee camps, trying to find his family, and dealing with being alone. It was heartbreaking to think of a young boy actually having to go through with this. The worst is that it actually happened and is happening everywhere.
Nya lived in a different time but it was still oh so sad. Her job was to walk to and from a pond, hours and miles away just to get dirty water for her family. She never complained or protested. It was just the way it had to be for her family. Her part of the story was much smaller with only two, at the most, paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter. Still, it had a lasting impression on me. You had to walk hours every day to gather water that could ultimately kill you.
This book really made me grateful for things I have. I have clean water. I don't have to worry about having to run in the middle of the night to survive. I have food, school, my family. Salva got excited over a little mango. That was such a rare treat for him when I can drive to Wal-Mart and pick up a dozen right now. Salva had to walk great distances to go to school and Nya couldn't even attend. I'm in college now, dreading the early mornings I have to wake up get moving.
One part that really broke my heart was a line during Nya's part. She was talking about her rival tribe, which Salva was actually a part of, and mentioned something about how the only reason you could tell the difference between the two tribes were the markings on their faces. For 21 years and millions of people dead, there was a terrible civil war and all because someone had different markings on their faces. It broke my heart.
I loved this book. It was a short read but I was definitely recommend it to anyone. Also, if you would like to donate money to help get clean water to Sudan, here's the website:
Water for South Sudan
Thank you for reading my review!