Monday, July 12, 2010
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
While teens in 2009, in the United States have been worried about obtaining the newest technology—ipods, smart phones and so forth, the young people of Sudan are worried about obtaining fresh water. Before that there was war and much hardship. When you open this book you will not be able to close it until you have finished the last word -- it's that intriguing. Park tells us parallel stories of two people: Nya, a young girl living in Southern Sudan 2008-2009 who must walk miles each day to obtain enough fresh water for her family and Salva, a young man whose journey begins in Southern Sudan many years earlier (1985). His walk takes him away from his village when it is raided by rebels, and pushes (and pulls) him on a journey across Africa and into the United States.
At the beginning of each paragraph we briefly glimpse a portion of Nya's life as a young girl in Southern Sudan in 2008-and later 2009. Meanwhile the major portion of the chapter tells us the story of Salva and his years as a refugee from Sudan. First he is driven from his village by rebels, travels to Ethiopia with a group similarly displaced by the war in his country and where the group lives in a refugee camp. Salva's trip to Ethiopia brought him much hardship. Separated from his family (who surely had been destroyed in the rebel attack on his village) he is all alone—a lost boy of Sudan. But his compelling story does not end there. When the two stories (that of Nya and Salva) converge it will be a gentle reminder that there is much good in the world even amid tragedy and war and ...
This is just a great read. Park has masterfully woven the two tales to seamlessly converge in 2009 back in the Sudan. Along the way we will learn much about the political unrest in the Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, as well as, traditional Sudanese rivalries among the Dinka and the Nuer.
With this dual narrative Park does much to call our attention to Sudan and the efforts needed in that area of the world—all the while telling us a compelling, page-turning, narrative that is sure to intrigue teen readers.
Don't miss pairing this book with Ishmael Beal's novel, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007). Beal was born in Sierra Leone in 1980, which makes his story one that occurred in roughly the same time period as Salva and Nya. Read more about his story http://www.alongwaygone.com/.