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What Is the What

Average Rating 4.5
( 172 )
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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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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Get a real feel for what is happening in Darfur, Sudan.

    The horror of what continues to happen in Sudan is brought to real life in this book. The killings in Darfur, the escape as refugees to Ethiopia and Kenya, their lives in the camps and the opportunity for a few to create new lives in the U.S. are written for you to experience what they went through. This is a disturbing read in the story it tells but it is well written as it alternates between the past and present life of the main character. I recommend it to anyone interested in world events, however, you will wonder if this is a repeat of the holocaust and why aren't we doing more to stop the genocide and violence?

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2008

    What is the What

    I did a five page book review on this book for school and I really enjoyed this book. Although I do read a lot of books along the same subject line, this was among the best. I would definently recommend it to people who want to learn more about the Lost Boys of Sudan. However there are a lot of downfalls of the book also. So I would say read the book anyways. It was totally worth it to me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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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 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 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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  • 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 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 October 16, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    What is the What

    An incredible story of human perserverance. Through all the tragedy, the main character manages to survive by finding humor and self-awareness. This is a fictional book based on the real life adventures of Valentino Achak Deng. I wondered throughout the book what was real and what was imagined. It didn't take much away from the book. I heartily recommend this work.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 1, 2012

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