Books set in Africa, Coming of age, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Social Commentary, Young Adult

#463 A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue ParkA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Sudan is a place I don’t know much about, but in this book I learned a little more. This book involves two separate children, both living in Sudan.

Nya lives in Sudan in the year 2008. Salva lives in Sudan in the year 1985. Salva’s family is well-known in the area and somewhat affluent. This doesn’t change the fact that they leave the village in the dry season, everybody does. There isn’t any water there. They must go live around a big lake. The lake shrinks to nothing and everyone must dig for water in the mud. Waterborne illnesses spread rapidly.

Nya’s job is to walk to the lake every day with a large container to gather water for her family. She digs down into the mud to collect water. She does this day after day after day. Sometimes her little sister comes along, but after a time the little sister becomes ill. It’s from the dirty water. Some men show up at the lake and start doing something; it turns out to be something great.

Salva is in school one day when shots ring out in the village. His teacher tells the students to run into the bush, don’t go home. Salva joins up with a group of people walking away from the village. One day they stop for the night and leave Salva behind because he’s a child. Salva keeps going. He finds another group of people. They’re walking away from Sudan and into Ethiopia. Salva’s uncle happens to be in the group of people. They travel on. A young man around Salva’s age is taken by a lion. They keep going. Men attack the group and Salva’s uncle is killed.

The group keeps going onto a refugee camp. They eventually make it, but the refugee camp is packed with people. It’s hard to get anything and find anyone. Salva stays in this camp for several years, but it closes and Salva leaves the camp with a group of boys. Salva leads a group startig out with 1500 boys to another refugee camp. It takes over a year for them to reach the camp, but 1300 boys reach the camp.

A group begins to pay for some of the boys to leave the area and  go to the United States. Salva is taken in by a family in New York. He is able to go to school and college. He finds out his father is alive and is able to go and see him in the hospital. Salva begins to start a project for Sudan.

Salva creates a group that drills wells for the dry areas of Sudan so the people can get water all year round. The well drilled in Nya’s village was a project created by Salva’s group. Nya is able to have water because of Salva’s group.

What I liked

This story is actually based on Salva’s life. Salva is real. He does have an organization that drills wells in Africa. He spends half of his year in the United States getting money to drill wells and then he goes to Africa with his team and drills wells. Salva actually did go to the refugee camps and go with a large group of boys to another camp. The group was called the lost boys.

Some events of this book are fictionalized. Nya isn’t real, but her story was probably very much the story of many young women in that particular area of Africa.

I learned more about Sudan. I hadn’t known much of Sudan to start with. I knew it was a big country, but hadn’t realized that the northern and southern areas often warred with one another. I think Salva is a really neat guy. He’s done so much to help the people of his home country. He puts a lot of his time into this and has spent years on this. He has been able to help so many people. Salva started out at the bottom, but was able to create something really amazing out of his misfortune. Salva is a truly admirable person.

What I didn’t like

It’s sad that Salva was separated from his family like he was. I’m glad he was able to find that some of his family was still alive. It’s sad that the Sudan has been so war-torn. Families were separated and little girls have had to walk miles to get water. I’m glad that people like Salva were able to help the people out, but there is still a lot that needs to be done there.


I think this book was an effective way to tell the story of the Sudan.

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Books set in Africa, Coming of age, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Park-Linda Sue, Social Commentary, Young Adult


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