A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water

4.5 153
by Linda Sue Park
     
 

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The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost

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Overview

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There have been several books about the lost boys of Sudan for adults, teens, and even for elementary-school readers. But [this] spare, immediate account, based on a true story, adds a stirring contemporary dimension. . . . Young readers will be stunned by the triumphant climax."  —Booklist, starred review

"[This] spare, hard-hitting novel delivers a memorable portrait of two children in Sudan. . . . Tragic and harrowing."— Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Two narratives intersect in a quiet conclusion that is filled with hope."—School Library Journal, starred review

"This powerful dual narrative packs suspense and introspection into Park's characteristic spare description; while there are lots of details offered to the reader, they come not in long, prosaic lines but in simple, detached observations. Both Salva's and Nya's stories are told with brutal, simple honesty, and they deliver remarkable perspective on the Sudanese conflict. The novel's brevity and factual basis makes the reality of life in Sudan very accessible, and readers will find both the story and the style extremely moving."—The Bulletin

"Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape. . . . A heartfelt account."—Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliant. . . . A touching narrative about strife and survival on a scale most American readers will never see."— Book Page

"Riveting."—The Horn Book

"[A] fast, page-turning read. . . . A great book for high school students and an important novel for young adults who enjoy learning about other world cultures."—VOYA

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist Park's (The Single Shard) spare, hard-hitting novel delivers a memorable portrait of two children in Sudan--one an 11-year-old Lost Boy, Salva, who fled in 1985 and later immigrated to the United States, and 11-year-old Nya, who collects water for her village in 2008. Park employs well-chosen details and a highly atmospheric setting to underscore both children's struggles to survive. Salva's journey is tragic and harrowing, as he's driven by attacking soldiers and braves hunger, shifting alliances among refugees, and the losses of a friend to a lion attack and his uncle to violent marauders. "The days became a never-ending walk," he reflects. Salva's narrative spans 23 years and highlights myriad hardships but not without hope, as he withstands the deprivations of refugee camps, leads 1,200 boys to Kenya, and eventually gains sanctuary in Rochester, N.Y., where he still lives (he also contributes an afterword). Briefer entries about Nya preface chapters about Salva, illustrating the daily realities and sacrifices of modern-day life in Sudan. The eventual connection of Salva and Nya's stories offers the promise of redemption and healing. Ages 10–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
It is 1985 and eleven-year-old Salva is daydreaming in his school in southern Sudan when the sound of a gunshot brings him back to reality. His teacher tells the students to run into the bush and stay away from their villages. Salva does as he is told, and thus begins a long, harrowing journey to stay alive. Park carefully constructs two stories which will eventually intersect. One story is based on the true account of Salva Dut, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who spent years on his own and in refugee camps, not knowing if any of his family were still alive. The other story begins in 2008 and is about Nya, a character who represents the plight of many young girls today in southern Sudan. Nya must walk for hours to find water and bring it back home for her family's survival. Often, however, the water is contaminated. With an American sponsor, Salva goes to Rochester, New York where he turns his dreams of helping the people in Sudan into a reality through wells that provide clean water. Readers will immediately identify with Salva as he daydreams in school. They will get caught up in his story as he flees for his life and they will not want to stop reading until the end. Nya's story is an eye-opener for American children who take for granted clean, running tap water. This is truly a timely and inspirational story of hope and perseverance. It reminds us of the positive accomplishments we can make when we all work together to break down the barriers between people and help one another create a better life. This is a quick read and should be part of the global studies curriculum in school. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
VOYA - Sharon Blumberg
This fast, page-turning read is a work of fiction, but it is based on the true accounts of two eleven-year-olds growing up in southern Sudan. In 2008, Nya has to endure endless, long trips to obtain water for her family. Meanwhile, in 1985, Salva, who was born in a small village called Loun-Ariik, sits peacefully in his school as gun fire rings out in the distance. His teacher orders his students to run into the bush, not back home. The reason is because rebel soldiers are killing and taking over the neighboring villages. We read in alternation, the simultaneous stories of these two children, their lives separated only by a short time span. Now Salva realizes all too quickly the horrifying predicament he must face. As he confronts the truth that his family may be murdered, he must flee for safety, shelter and food in the company of strangers. As he searches for his family, Salva has to make some life-or-death decisions. Will he continue to be a follower and possibly become a burden to his village elders, or will he be left with no choice but to lead young lives in a new direction? With every decision, danger greets him unforgivingly. While Salva ponders his future, he flees with the group he is traveling with to the overcrowded refugee camps of Ethiopia. He hopes that there he will find safety and food. If not, where will his life take him? This is a great book for high school students and an important novel for young adults who enjoy learning about other world cultures. Reviewer: Sharon Blumberg
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Salva and Nya have difficult paths to walk in life. Salva's journey, based on a true story, begins in 1985 with an explosion. The boy's small village in Sudan erupts into chaos while the 11-year-old is in school, and the teacher tells the children to run away. Salva leaves his family and all that is familiar and begins to walk. Sometimes he walks alone and sometimes there are others. They are walking toward a refugee camp in Ethiopia, toward perceived safety. However, the camp provides only temporary shelter from the violent political storm. In 1991-'92, thousands are killed as they try to cross a crocodile-infested river when they are forced out of the country; Salva survives and gets 1200 boys to safety in Kenya. Nya's life in 2008 revolves around water. She spends eight hours a day walking to and from a pond. In the dry season, her family must uproot themselves and relocate to the dry lake bed where they dig in the mud until water eventually trickles out. Nya's narrative frames Salva's journey from Sudan to Ethiopia to Rochester, NY, and, eventually, back to Sudan. Both story lines are spare, offering only pertinent details. In the case of Salva, six years in a camp pass by with the barest of mentions. This minimalism streamlines the plot, providing a clarity that could have easily become mired in depressing particulars. The two narratives intersect in a quiet conclusion that is filled with hope.—Naphtali L. Faris, Saint Louis Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews

Salva Dut is 11 years old when war raging in the Sudan separates him from his family. To avoid the conflict, he walks for years with other refugees, seeking sanctuary and scarce food and water. Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape as they expose Salva to cruelties both natural and man-made. The lessons Salva remembers from his family keep him from despair during harsh times in refugee camps and enable him, as a young man, to begin a new life in America. As Salva's story unfolds, readers also learn about another Sudanese youth, Nya, and how these two stories connect contributes to the satisfying conclusion. This story is told as fiction, but it is based on real-life experiences of one of the "Lost Boys" of the Sudan. Salva and Nya's compelling voices lift their narrative out of the "issue" of the Sudanese War, and only occasionally does the explanation of necessary context intrude in the storytelling. Salva's heroism and the truth that water is a source of both conflict and reconciliation receive equal, crystal-clear emphasis in this heartfelt account. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547577319
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/04/2011
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
819
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"There have been several books about the lost boys of Sudan for adults, teens, and even for elementary-school readers. But [this] spare, immediate account, based on a true story, adds a stirring contemporary dimension. . . . Young readers will be stunned by the triumphant climax."—Booklist, starred review

"[This] spare, hard-hitting novel delivers a memorable portrait of two children in Sudan. . . . Tragic and harrowing."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Two narratives intersect in a quiet conclusion that is filled with hope."—School Library Journal, starred review

"This powerful dual narrative packs suspense and introspection into Park's characteristic spare description; while there are lots of details offered to the reader, they come not in long, prosaic lines but in simple, detached observations. Both Salva's and Nya's stories are told with brutal, simple honesty, and they deliver remarkable perspective on the Sudanese conflict. The novel's brevity and factual basis makes the reality of life in Sudan very accessible, and readers will find both the story and the style extremely moving."—The Bulletin

"Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape. . . . A heartfelt account."—Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliant. . . . A touching narrative about strife and survival on a scale most American readers will never see."—BookPage

"Riveting."—The Horn Book

"[A] fast, page-turning read. . . . A great book for high school students and an important novel for young adults who enjoy learning about other world cultures."—VOYA

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