My daughter was reading this in her 7th grade English class and we decided to read it aloud in the evenings during our story times together for a couple of reasons. I had to sign a permission slip allowing her to read it. This didn’t overly concern me, but I wanted to be reading it with her so we could discuss anything that she might find upsetting. Even better, she wanted to share the story with us. So we read along at the same pace as her class, which was SLOW, since of course they had to do a ton of work after each chapter. But in spite of the pace, it was easy to remember what was happening and we were all eager to see what would happen when we were finally “allowed” by my daughter to move on to the next chapter!
A Long Walk to Water is based on the true story of Salva, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. It tells his story as he is forced to flee his village without his family, travel across the country, and live in refugee camps before finally being relocated to the United States. Along the way he faces armed rebels, lions, crocodiles, death, hunger, thirst, exhaustion and despair. In parallel, it tells the story of Nya, a girl living in a warring tribe almost thirty years later, as she walks two hours in each direction, twice a day, to get water for her family. Ultimately, their two stories intersect, overcoming tribal differences in a touching and hopeful way.
The story provided a stark view of what life is like for others across the world even in this modern age, giving everyone, especially my daughter, a greater appreciation for the way that we are able to live, with running water, surrounded by family, and living in a peaceful society. With the recent resurgence of violence in South Sudan, my daughter has been following current events carefully. And given that Salva now lives in Rochester, NY – a mere hour and a half away from us – she is desperately hoping for the opportunity to meet him.
Title: A Long Walk to Water
Author: Linda Sue Park
Publication: Clarion, November 2010