Sunday, November 7, 2010
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Black Friday. It’s one of the craziest days of the year. It used to be just known as the Friday-after-Thanksgiving, but now it’s the day we expect some poor soul to get trampled to death by a frenzied mob converging on a storefront at exactly 5:00AM, all in the quest to grab the last Tickle Me Elmo. I cringe to think that the big-box stores count on such animal behavior from us in order to make their year-end profit margin.
Once in a while a book comes along that reminds us we can step outside a world that has such low expectations of us. A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, is a book that makes you think about your potential to exceed low expectations and to make a difference. I won’t lie to you. It’s a story about war. It’s a book about tragedy. It's also a story of hope and perseverance.
The story takes place in Sudan. Sudan is the largest country in Africa, but it is known for the numerous evils that have descended on it. There is war. There is racism. There is religious intolerance. There is genocide-some might call it the hidden holocaust.
The book begins with the story of a boy named Salva. In the opening chapters we quickly experience what it means to run for your life. You will learn that Salva is one of the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys were given this name from a reference to the lost boys in the book, Peter Pan. Instead of Neverland, many of the Lost Boys of Sudan found refuge in the United States. Some even located in Minnesota.
The other main character in the book is a girl named Nya. She toils everyday just to provide water for her family. She has to walk miles to the nearest pond to carry water back and forth. All her life consists of is obtaining the most basic element of human survival, something many of us easily take for granted.
Salva’s story starts in 1985. Nya’s begins in 2008. Their stories are separated by time but intertwined by location. One of the characters is based on an actual person, the other is fictional. As you read you might be tempted to jump ahead to see how the author weaves their two stories together.
In the video below, Linda Sue Park introduces her new book and you can also meet the actual person that inspired it:
I encourage all of you to read Linda Sue Park's new book, not only because it is an inspiring story of survival, but because we need to. Many of us don’t know what has happened in Sudan, and there seems to be too many converging evils upon this land for us to simply ignore. Her book also serves to remind us all what we take for granted, what deserves our thanksgiving, and what treasure is really worth seeking.
For more information about the Lost Boys, Sudan, and the work of Salva Dut, check the following websites:
Water for Sudan
Video of Linda Sue Park and Salva Dut at Amazon.com
Lost Boys of Chicago Lost Boys Documentary Film
U. of M. Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
Following the Lost Boys on Minnesota MPR Midmorning (2-23-2006)
Lost Boys Art
If this book sounds interesting, then you might like:
Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate
Posted by Mr. S @ BC at 5:08 PM