Thursday, May 10, 2012

JBA Post #15: A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park

The stories in A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park, span two continents and almost three decades, and connect the lives of two very different people.

Nya is a young girl of the Neur tribe, living in Sudan in 2008. She is charged with collecting water for her family - a rough task since there isn't much potable water close to her village. She has to make a long journey to the water source, and even then, the water is unfit for drinking, but it's all they have. Until, that is, foreign men come into her village and begin drilling a well, saying that there is a clean water source right under their feet, deep under the surface of the earth.

Salva is also from Sudan, but from a different tribe - the Dinka - a tribe long at the war with the Neur. Salva's story begins in the 1980s, during the harsh Sudanese civil war. Salva becomes separated from his family and becomes the leader of the 'Lost Boys', a group of boys that traveled 1000s of miles by foot to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Years later, Salva is lucky enough to be adopted into a family in America, but he obviously cannot let go of his African roots, and curiosity about his lost family consumes him. One day, he receives an email saying that his father is alive, hospitalized in Africa. He travels to see his father, and learns that he has a stomach condition that has grown from drinking dirty water. Salva longs to do something to aid his people with this issue of unclean water.

Can you guess how Salva and Nya are related?

This book is based on a true story - Salva is a real person. I really enjoyed it, and liked how it alternated from the past to the present, between Nya's voice and Salva's. There are some upsetting scenes, though, such as when the refugees are kicked out of the camp and have to swim through crocodile-infested waters with soldiers shooting at them.

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