When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.
This well written book is a wonderful glimpse of the lives that some children have to deal with. While it is tragic, it is a story of hope and growth without being preachy and I would recommend this to any one 10 years and over, and especially as a class read aloud book. The end has a lovely twist.
I got interested in Salva and his story immediately, but so much was left out. Surely we underestimate kids if we think they only need the facts in brief. Other characters were sketchily drawn in their lighning appearances in the story. Where is the dialogue that does more than anything to bring characters alive? There is minimal dialogue in this novel. There is some attempt to draw Salva as a character, but it left me wanting more. And what about the fascinating story of the 1500 Sudanese boys who took a year and a half to reach the refugee camps in Kenya? It's mentioned almost as an aside in Salva's life, barely a few lines.
I liked the dual storyline between Salva's and Nya's stories, but once again I wanted more about Nya. I did not find that I engaged with the characters.
The characters did not have a voice.
I wish Deborah Ellis had written this story.
Sudan has always been a hotbed of controversy and war. Innocent people are constantly caught in
The other character in this book is Nya and takes place in 2008. She like many other young people don’t go to school. She spends her day traveling several hours each way to bring water home to her family. She must do this in the morning and in the afternoon. She and Salva both lived in Sudan but in separate tribes that don’t get along. It is her tribe that attacked his village many years before.
It is after Salva graduates that things in his country are affected by his actions. He and Nya meet and the reader sees how their paths have crossed and why it is important. I will be using this book in my classroom this year and I absolutely can’t wait for my students to read it. This is a must read for anyone interested in learning what happens outside their own home. It causes us to look at how lucky we are to live here in the United States.
Salva Dut's story starts in his village of Loun Ariik. But his life changes when soldiers invade his town
Nya's story is about how she has to walk 8 hours a day to get water for her family. Nya never went to school because only boys can. Nya's sister Akeer gets sick by the muddy water but the nearest hospital was 300 miles away. Luckily a man organizes a program raise money to build a well in her village. Meaning once the well is built she'll be able to go to school. The man is suppose to be Salva but in reality Nya's story is fictional but Salva's is true.
The other story within the book is about Nya of Nue village describes how she takes part traveling distances to fetch water for her family and village. She recounts of how strangers came to her village to do construction with great metal "animals", and digging holes that would help get them water. Nya is not impressed or believes this will be done. She is having doubts about her role as the daughter of the village leader.
Without giving away the end these two stories intertwine with a good surprise at end.
Some topics to discuss: immigration, boy soldiers, role of women, education, language acquisition, humanitarian aide, involvement, GANGS