"A Long Walk to Water" by Linda Sue Park

In 1985, Salva is a young boy growing up in Sudan, helping his family at home and attending school.  But one day his village is attacked while he is at school and he escapes into the forest with a bunch of strangers.  His country is in the midst of a civil war and he is about to become one of the famous "lost boys," young men who walked across countries to find safety.

In 2008, Nya is a young girl growing up in Sudan who spends her days getting water from a pond that is over two hours from her home.  She does this twice a day to help provide for her family.  Education is just a dream for Nya, there are more pressing needs at home.

Their lives collide in present day Sudan, when Salva's survival story provides him with an opportunity to make a better way for his country and Nya's life changes forever because of it.

A Long Walk to Water is a novel by Newberry Medal winner Linda Sue Park that documents that real life story of Salva, a young man forced to flee his village and who ended up living in refugee camps before moving to America due to the civil war in his country.  His story intersects with the fictional Nya, a representation of the many people in Sudan who have benefitted from Salva's humanitarian work.

There are a lot of books out about the Lost Boys of Sudan, as well as documentaries, but this novel stands out in that it is aimed at bringing the story to young people.  This book would be great for middle grade readers and up to help them understand the lives of other young people around the world.  The book is written in a way that is sensitive to the age of the readers but still gets the difficulties and horrors of war across.

I liked how the stories of Salva and Nya were told together, even though they happened at different times.  Salva's story is told in the black print and Nya's in the red print to keep the stories intertwined but prevent it from becoming confusing.  

I highly recommend this book for younger readers.  Adults who are not familiar with the Lost Boys or the civil war in Sudan may also enjoy this introduction, but this is mostly for school-age kids.  


  1. Thanks for pointing out this book! I'd not heard of it before - but after seeing your review, I've found it in several places. It looks excellent. I'll certainly put it on my list for next year's Social Justice Theme Read. Thanks again for participating!


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