Customer Reviews for

What Is the What

Average Rating 4.5
( 172 )
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(105)

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(17)

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(5)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Life-Changing Novel!

What Is The What by Dave Eggers is the thrilling, remarkable memoir of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with other thousands of children, also known as the famous Lost Boys, faces the reality of growing up with no home to return to. When forced to leave his village in S...
What Is The What by Dave Eggers is the thrilling, remarkable memoir of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with other thousands of children, also known as the famous Lost Boys, faces the reality of growing up with no home to return to. When forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven, Achak and the other Lost Boys encounter man-eating lions, countless days and nights without food, and the bombing blood-bath attacks from the Arab militia. Fleeing across three countries to reach the safety refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, Achak finally finds freedom when he is chosen to live in America. Little does he know that in the United States, he will face occurrences even more difficult than his life back in Sudan, encountering a robbery in his Atlanta apartment, being held captive and beaten. I absolutely enjoyed this extraordinary novel, which brought tears to my eyes, along with countless smiles and laughter. It kept me on my toes with it's suspense in action and drama. This book will take you you to life in this third-world country, and what it feels like to watch numerous innocent villages burned to the ground.

posted by KleinM on October 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

What is the ending?

This book gives the reader insight into the lives of the Lost Boys. It is told in first person by one of the Lost Boys. And, although it holds your interest easily for the first half or so of the book, it begins to bog down. And, while I'm sure that's exactly how the Lo...
This book gives the reader insight into the lives of the Lost Boys. It is told in first person by one of the Lost Boys. And, although it holds your interest easily for the first half or so of the book, it begins to bog down. And, while I'm sure that's exactly how the Lost Boys felt about their journey as well, as a reader I lose interest.

Plodding on at that point, I begin to wonder how this book will end. My suspicion was right.

posted by duguay on March 16, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2007

    Incredible

    You still feel you are being knocked down time and again with him at the end of the book, but somehow in the last page you find yourself inspired and still wondering how it is possible so much could happen to one person. And I've never had a book grab my attention as quickly as this did, in the first sentence perhaps but I can't remember. But an incredible book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    Intersection of People and Politics

    As a white, locally educated twenty-something, I am exceedingly grateful for a thoughtful, elegantly written book that sheds light on under-reported and oft misrepresented Northeastern African politics. It makes me eager to learn more of what I obviously do not yet know. As for execution: the portraits painted of the Sudanese are at once heroic in their endurance and beauty and recognizable in their humanity. All in all, I am humbled by and grateful to Achak for unflinchingly sharing his Story with me as well as to Eggers, who served his subject and his readers by writing invisibly--so perfectly undistracting and so damn well as to make us all despair of writing anything ever. (If you appreciate this, I recommend Little Bee by Cleaver as a companion)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    A favorite

    Loved from the first page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2013

    A wonderful book

    Anyone interested in the plight of the so called lost boys needs to re

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2013

    Gripping novel; it'll make you want to change the world for the

    Gripping novel; it'll make you want to change the world for the better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Heartbreaking

    Great educational read for those who have no clue about what has happened over that way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    ¿What Is The What¿ by Dave Eggers gives an eye-opening view into

    “What Is The What” by Dave Eggers gives an eye-opening view into the lives of Sudan’s civil war refugees by recounting the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. In this memoir/novel combination, Eggers reveals the stark contrast between the lives of those living in tranquil America and disaster stricken Sudan as well as displays the intense emotions felt by those raised in the midst of conflict. The reader is shown how difficult life is for the recovering refugee in a country completely separate from the war-torn life he came from while providing flashbacks of Deng’s life in Sudan to give the reader a taste of the horrors of real life war. Eggers does a beautiful job of relaying an issue that is horrifying and terrible in a way that sparks a feeling of hope for a better world in the reader. This book inspires one to reflect deeply on the position they hold as a member of a privileged society and on the effect they can have in the lives of others. All that is left to do is to simply stop and take time to listen to the untold stories of those in pain. In the words of Valentino Deng as told by Dave Eggers, “How blessed are we to have each other? I am alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with our words.” This book can change lives if the message of world peace is taken seriously by all those who read its words. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    A great read

    Great

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Loved it!

    Great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    Worthy of a train ride

    I read this book while backpacking in Morrocco. The trip was 4 years ago and I still remember much of the story. A great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2011

    Great book!!!

    Great Book! The novel is long, but a fast read. I read it for one of my college classes. The price is good at Barnes and Nobles. Also, shipping is great especially if you get free shipping for spending over $25. The shipping is fairly priced and quick.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read!!!

    I was spellbound by Achak Deng's story and the way he told it. Dave Eggers provided an amazing voice for Achak to tell of his past and show hope in his future. In spite of terrible and reoccurring tragedies that I cannot even imagine this book is a narrative of overcoming hope. I recommend this read to anyone.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Outstanding!!

    An amazing memoir of unspeakable tragedy. All of the drama is real, and you feel as if you are the one left for dead by the side of the road. The story is just as heartbreaking as the writing is exquisite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2010

    Life Changing

    What is the What by Dave Eggers was an intense memoir that really helped me to understand all if the bad situations that are going on in Valentino's home town in Sudan. Valentino is the main character and begins the book with an action packed scene that set the tone for the rest of the book where he explains the many hardships he goes through. The introduction to the book and unique writing style of his African dialect glued me to the upcoming chapters. This was a smart move by the author because the next few chapters were slow moving and not as exciting because there isn't much action and when he talks about his past and current life. The author explained these hardships in Sudan by giving the reader his personal stories and all of the dialogue that came with it. He even tells stories to the actual characters in the book about his personal life. With the many stories he tells, I became attached to his personal life and therefore it distracts the story plot as a whole because he goes back and forth between his personal stories and what is actually going on in the book. This made some parts of the story a bit confusing. Although some parts were confusing, he managed to give the reader life lessons without exactly telling them straight forward. Valentino taught me not to dwell on the past or look ahead to the future but to focus on today. These subtle but deep messages are what make this book a life-changing experience. Just when you think about all of the devastating events that he went through in the past, he suffers a tragic loss that will change his life forever.

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  • Posted September 15, 2010

    Phenomenal

    I loved this book! It was one of the best I've read in years- I literally could not put it down. I've always loved Dave Eggers but I feel that this is his best yet. Just amazing.

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    Amazing!

    This book is incredible. I was so inspired and blown away by the writing, the people and their struggle. Eggers paints a very real and graphic picture of life in Sudan and the Lost Boys strugges.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An Eye Opener!

    I recommend this book to EVERYONE. After reading this book, I think I have a slightly better understanding of the gruesomeness and violence of the civil war in Sudan. The author used the best words to illustrate the story of Achak. I finished this book last week and I am still thinking about it.

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  • Posted May 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Leave one in an utter "wow"...

    This book it probably one of the greatest books i have read. As a senior in High school, all of the English department got together earlier this year and did a huge fundraiser with The invisible Children, watching movies, raising awareness, and then, as part of The Legacy tour, a couple people who were children during the war and part of the Children's Army came to our school and talked.

    I learned of this book about a month later, and was just in awe.

    I fully recommend this book to EVERYONE. :D

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    So, it wasn't what I expected...? THIS IS NOT A QUICK READ.

    This was a really good book. Very interesting. The first 200 pages were intense, or about as intense as the book could ever get. It was really good. But then, the last half of the book just seemed to long. I skimmed it, because the narrator had already spoiled the ending throughout the book. The main conflict at the end was whether or not he would make it to America and survive, but he's telling the story from America...so you know the end of the story after reading like the first page.... Anyways, it was too long. The ending was not real grasping. If you have a long time to spend reading, then you should read this book.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Weird.

    I think this book would have been better if Deng himself wrote it. I'm not too interested in Dave Egger's approach to fiction/non-fiction, especially with a topic like this. I will however say that the story is powerful and amazing. It's long, but not a difficult read. I would recommend this.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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